Towns And Rose Lead The Way In OT Victory Over Wizards
It wasn’t exactly how they drew it up, but the Wolves got back on the right track on Saturday night against the Wizards. The fans who braved some difficult winter conditions were rewarded with an exciting contest that ended up a 135-130 Wolves victory in overtime. The Wolves have now won five consecutive home games and are 22-10 at home overall.
In some ways, it was the usual suspects for the Wolves, but a nice mix of supporting players stepped up in a big way as well. After a crazy Bradley Beal three-pointer at the buzzer in regulation forced extra time the Wolves buckled down and played their best basketball of the game.
Karl-Anthony Towns dominated all night, finishing with his second-consecutive 40-point performance and added 16 rebounds, two steals and a block. He also played phenomenal defense in the fourth quarter including a critical stretch when he tied up Bobby Portis for a jump ball when the Wizards had the ball right under the basket. However, Towns left the game with a right knee injury in the closing second of regulation. We will keep you updated on his status as more information becomes available.
After Towns left, Derrick Rose took over. He finished with 29 points on 56.5-percent shooting. Rose was aggressive calling his own shot and hit two absolutely clutch buckets at the end of regulation and the end of overtime. The first one looked like a game-sealer before Beal’s heroics, the second one was. Rose scored 16 points in the fourth quarter and overtime period—the Wolves would not have won without him.
It would also be a crime not to mention Taj Gibson’s overtime efforts. Gibson’s minutes have gone up and down in the last few weeks, but he was incredible in OT, creating multiple second-chance opportunities for the Wolves and anchoring their defense in the absence of Towns. Gibson finished with a double-double: 15 points and 13 rebounds. Six of his rebounds were offensive. Gibson doesn’t do everything, but he’s the absolute best at what he does and on Saturday night, that’s exactly what Minnesota needed.
Keita Bates-Diop and Cam Reynolds also came up big. Bates-Diop got the start for the injured Andrew Wiggins and finished with a career-high 12 points, adding five rebounds, two assists and a steal. He ran the floor well, made great cuts, limited his mistakes and strengthened his case to remain a part of the Wolves’ rotation. There were a few rookie mistakes—he missed a free-throw late in regulation and had trouble on an inbounds play in overtime—but his progress has been a joy to watch. Reynolds, signed to a second 10-day contract with the team earlier in the day, made the Wolves front office look very smart with a few great defensive plays and a shooting stroke that looks very real. He finished with five points a steal and a block.
There have been too many games lately that the Wolves have had chances to win and come up short. The attitude was different Saturday night. In the face of real adversity—a crazy last-second shot from their opponent and missing their best player—the Wolves pulled together and found a way to get a huge victory. The young players stepped up, the veterans led by example, the team talked and made good decisions and importantly, there was not a second of panic.
“I have confidence in all our guys,” said Interim Head Coach Ryan Saunders after the game. “You see how they work on a daily basis, how they’re invested in this, how they support their teammates.”