Mitchell HansenWeb Editorial AssociateTwitter
With Zach LaVine, Shabazz Muhammad and Brandon Rush out of Sunday’s game, Andrew Wiggins knew he needed to step up to help his team bounce back from Saturday’s loss.
Wiggins finished with a career-high 47 points to lift the Minnesota Timberwolves to a 125-99 win over the Los Angeles Lakers at the Target Center.
“Shabazz was out, Rush was out, Zach was out. I just tried to be aggressive. I got off to a good start and just kept rolling,” Wiggins said after the game. “Coach told me to be more aggressive and I just went for it.”
The third-year wing shot 14-for-21 (66.7 percent) from the field, 2-for-5 (40 percent) from behind the arc and 17-for-22 (66.7 percent) from the free throw line.
Nemanja Bjelica, who started in place of LaVine, also had a career night, finishing with a career-high 24 points in his first career start. Karl-Anthony Towns added 22 points and 12 rebounds, Ricky Rubio had 10 points and 10 assists, and Adreian Payne had 10 points for the Wolves.
“I thought a lot of guys stepped up. The obvious is what Andrew did to score the way he did and make plays, put pressure on the defense. It was a great performance,” Wolves head coach Tom Thibodeau said. “I thought (Bjelica) stepping in and playing in the small forward position and being ready to play, I thought he had a good game also. Ricky got us going scoring in the first quarter and setting the tone for the team. We needed everyone.”
The Wolves finished 42-of-80 (52.5 percent) from the field in the game, including 13-for-27 (48.1 percent) from three. Minnesota shot 58.1 percent in the first half to carry a 69-46 lead into halftime.
The Lakers were led by Lou Williams with 17 points off the bench. Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson each had 14 points, Loul Deng had 13 points and Brandon Ingram added 10 points for Los Angeles, which shot 33-of-71 (46.5 percent) from the field and 8-for-24 (33.3 percent) from behind the arc.
The Wolves improve to 3-6 on the season, including 2-2 at the Target Center. The Lakers fall to 6-5 on the year.
“It was very important,” Wiggins said of the win. “We have to have that mindset that whoever comes in our house can’t win and it has to be the hardest place to play.”
Highlight of the Game
With 4:40 left in the first quarter, Rubio connected with Cole Aldrich on a bounce pass in the paint that concluded with a left-handed dunk by Aldrich. That basket put the Wolves up 22-18.
The Numbers Game
· The Wolves finished 28-for-42 (66.7 percent) from the free throw line. The Lakers shot 25-of-30 (83.3 percent) from the line.
· Minnesota moved the ball well, finishing with 28 assists in the game.
· The Wolves held a 14-6 advantage in second chance points and a 44-36 advantage in points in the paint.
Player of the Game
Who else would it be? Sunday night’s Wolves Player of the Game is Andrew Wiggins.
Wiggins finished with a career-high 47 points. It was his first 40-plus point game of his career.
Wiggins scored 25 points in the first half, followed by 22 points in the second.
The performance was Wiggins’ 16th of his career of scoring more than 30 points. His previous career best was a 36-point performance on Nov. 8 in Brooklyn.
The Wolves host the Charlotte Hornets at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Target Center. The game will be aired on Fox Sports North Plus and 830 WCCO.