Getty Images

Wolves Cornerstones Lead The Way In Dominant Victory

by Julian Andrews
Web Editorial Associate Follow

Things looked tenuous early, but the Wolves ended up winning big on Wednesday night, claiming a 121-104 victory over the Hornets. It was an uneven game at times, and Minnesota trailed by as much as 15, but a season-best performance from Andrew Wiggins and a monstrous effort by Karl-Anthony Towns helped the Wolves calmly claim a highly-necessary victory at home. In the fourth quarter the Wolves did what good teams do to bad teams, they extended their lead and never let the Hornets see daylight, only allowing 18 points in the final period and winning by 17.

Towns had an absolutely fantastic game. It was one of those Towns games that looked easy and remarkable all at the same time. He had four blocks in the first half, finishing with a career-high-tying six for the game. He was aggressive in the post against a weak Charlotte frontcourt and shot well from range as well, finishing with 35 points on 65-percent shooting including 4-of-5 from beyond the arc. He tacked on 12 rebounds and three assists for good measure. Just incredible.

Things looked a bit ugly in the second quarter as Frank Kaminsky (of all people) was hitting threes and Kemba Walker and Nic Batum were finding all the weak points in the Wolves’ defense. Then Wiggins happened. He led a spirited run sparked by an absolutely ferocious put-back slam and Minnesota battled back to tie the game with a few seconds remaining in the half. After the slam, the Wolves outscored the Hornets 76-47 for the rest of the game. Talk about a turning point! 

Wiggins finished the first half with 16 points, five rebounds and four assists. Though he slowed down in the second half, Wiggins still ended up with a season-high 26 points on 11-for-19 shooting, a great line for the young forward who has been bouncing back remarkably after suffering a bit of a slump earlier in the season.

The Wolves are now over .500 for the first time this season having fought their way back from winning just four of their first 13 games. The team now has a .750 winning percentage (9-3) after trading for Robert Covington and Dario Saric. They now sit at 13-12 on the season. Things are changing in the standings every single night, but Minnesota is undoubtedly back in playoff contention.

After going 3-1 in this homestand, the Wolves now go on the road for their next four. They face the Blazers, Warriors, Kings and Suns in what should be a good opportunity to test their mettle away from home. The Wolves as currently constructed have yet to play consecutive games on the road, but winning breeds confidence and this team undoubtedly gives itself a shot to win even in the toughest of situations. It should be a very fun trip.

A few things I noticed:

  • Jeff Teague didn’t shoot the ball well tonight (he didn’t really shoot much at all, taking only six shots), but he was an incredible distributor, finishing with a career-high 18assists. The Wolves are now 4-0 on the season when Teague reaches double-digit assists. We’ll have more on his effort soon.
  • Taj Gibson was huge on the boards tonight, finishing with 10. He was also extraordinarily efficient from the floor, shooting 4-of-5. The Hornets were throwing a lot of bodies at Towns tonight and Gibson made them pay for that over-commitment.
  • There were a lot of nice-looking team statistics in this one. In what is becoming more of a given than an exception, the Wolves overall defense was fantastic. They held the Hornets to 40.8-percent shooting from the field including blocking 11 shots as a team. The Wolves also shot 50 percent from three (12-of-24). Hard not to win with those types of numbers. The only bad thing was the Wolves’ free-throw shooting, which was uncharacteristically bad (65 percent). Those aberrations happen sometimes, but the Wolves made sure that it didn’t matter, taking care of everything else to ensure they wouldn’t be undone by their performance at the line.