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Wolves Fight Off Heat On Final 'Prince Night' Of The Season

by Julian Andrews
Web Editorial Associate Follow

Despite a fierce fight from a Miami team desperate for wins, the Wolves took care of business against the Heat on Friday night, earning a hard-fought home victory on the last Prince-themed night of the year.

This game was close the whole way through, with no double-digit leads by either team. There wasn’t much defense from either side in the first three quarters, but both teams buckled down in the fourth, with the Wolves coming away with a victory on the back of a final quarter where they held the Heat to just 18 points.

The Heat had a chance to win with the ball and down two, but Keita Bates-Diop played excellent defense as Dwyane Wade tried to fake him into fouling behind the three-point arc. That was a big moment for the rookie and one that showed how far he’s come in his understanding of the game.

On the night, the Wolves shot 50 percent from the field while the Heat shot 51.1 percent. However, the Wolves played excellent three-point defense the entire contest, holding the Heat to 29.4-percent shooting. They also took 21 free throws to the Heat’s 12 and converted on 17 of those attempts. The Wolves out-rebounded the Heat 43-to-38.

The Wolves got contributions from up and down the lineup in this one. Andrew Wiggins had a very efficient and productive game, finishing with 18 points on 58.3 percent shooting. Dario Saric also played extremely well, finishing with a well-rounded 19 points, seven rebounds and five assists.

However, the unlikely star of the show on Friday was Gorgui Dieng. He finished with 19 points including a few big fourth-quarter buckets and added four rebounds and two blocks. Dieng has been putting things together lately and he’s scored in double figures in four out of his last five games.

It’s incredibly encouraging to see the Wolves walking their talk and showing up to games with this kind of competitive energy even as they’ve been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. The Wolves haven’t won two games in a row since early March and now during a stretch of games against stiff competition they’re playing some of their best basketball of the season.

Karl-Anthony Towns has not been the dominant force he was after the All-Star Break, but that hasn’t mattered. The Wolves’ supporting cast is really stepping up. The play of Wiggins should make Wolves fans especially happy, as should the valuable contributions the team has been getting from rookies Bates-Diop, Okogie and Cam Reynolds. In addition, the team veterans have not lost focus down the stretch and are teaching the young guys what a winning culture looks like.

Tonight was a great way to end a season of Prince-themed celebrations and it was a great example of what has made this season special even as the on-court results haven’t lived up to expectations. This team has a bright future and we see it more and more every day.

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