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Wolves Make Statement, Earn Big Win Over Pelicans At Home

by Kyle Ratke, Digital Content Manager

Digital Content Manager

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Ryan Saunders hasn’t had the luxury of taking it easy in the final minute, or the finals seconds for that matter, in any of his first three games to start his tenure as Timberwolves interim head coach. 

But he’s done quite well in those games and led the Wolves to a huge 110-106 win at Target Center over the Pelicans on Saturday night. It was Saunders’ first win at home. He moved to 2-1 overall.

Considering this was on the second night of a back-to-back (the Wolves lost a thriller to the Mavericks on Friday night), it makes it all that more impressive.

The star for the Wolves was far and away Karl-Anthony Towns. Towns finished with 27 points, a career-high 27 rebounds to go with four blocks, three assists and two steals. His 27 rebounds is an NBA season high in 2018-19.

It’s obvious when watching Towns go up against fellow Kentucky alum Anthony Davis, it’s a matchup he takes personal. Davis got his, finishing with 30 points and 14 rebounds, but Towns outperformed him and fittingly blocked a Davis 3-point attempt in the final two minutes.  

The Pelicans led by as much as six points in the first quarter, and the Wolves flipped that to a Minnesota 12-point lead in the second quarter. But the second half was back and forth. We saw 15 lead changes and 18 ties. 

Andrew Wiggins added 18 points and seven rebounds. Josh Okogie tied a career-high with 17 points and five rebounds. Dario Saric and Tyus Jones finished with 14 points each, while Taj Gibson added 10. 

Jrue Holiday finished with 25 points and seven assists for the Pelicans. Julius Randle added 22 points and 11 rebounds, while Elfrid Payton scored 10.

It’s a huge win for the Wolves with both teams coming into the game with a 20-22 record. 

The Wolves are 11th in the West, two games back from the eighth seed. The Pelicans fell to 13th.  

A few quick observations from the game: 

  • We’ll have more on Towns in another piece, but man. Are you kidding me? What a performance from a player who is going to be in his second-straight All-Star game and will get some All-NBA consideration as well. You could tell early in the game that Towns’ toe that was injured on Friday was bothering him. But Towns fought through and battled one of the league’s best players and finished with an incredible 27/27 game.
  • Saric had a rough Friday night, finishing with no points in 19 minutes, shooting 0-for-5 from the field and 0-for-3 from the 3-point line. You could tell his confidence wasn’t all there to start the game on Saturday, but he slowly gained that. All 14 of his points came in the second half. He shot 4-for-7 from the field, 2-for-3 from deep and a perfect 4-for-4 from the free-throw line.
  • With Jeff Teague appearing to hurt his foot to end the first half, Jones was an incredible court leader for the Wolves on both ends. Obviously, the Wolves would love to have a healthy Teague (and Derrick Rose, who missed the game due to precautionary reasons), an injury-free lineup isn’t realistic in January. Saunders has tons of confidence in Jones and the reasons why were on display in this one.

The Wolves are back at it on Tuesday in Philadelphia against the 76ers. It’s the first game against a certain someone. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. on Fox Sports North and 830 WCCO.  

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