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Fans Pack Target Center For Summer Showcase
If you were walking near the Target Center on Wednesday evening, you would have thought there was a playoff game going on or maybe a Prince concert.
People were lined up five blocks away. The skyways were absolutely packed. People were everywhere around the Target Center wearing Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine jerseys.
For what? A scrimmage. That’s not possible, right?
Think again. After drafting Karl-Anthony Towns first overall and trading for Minnesota native Tyus Jones on draft night, momentum is riding high for the Minnesota Timberwolves, and for good reason.
For the second annual Summer Showcase, 15,200 showed up. More than doubling last year’s attendance and more than the team’s average attendance throughout the 2014-15 season. In attendance were people like Wolves center Nikola Pekovic (who is rehabbing his ankle), Wolves color analyst Jim Petersen and Lynx players Seimone Augustus and Dev Peters. With beautiful weather outside, the Target Center was the place to be in downtown Minneapolis.
“That’s incredible,” said Summer League head coach Ryan Saunders. “That shows the excitement and really commitment that these fans have to the organization, to these young guys… I haven’t seen anything like that in Minneapolis for the Timberwolves for a long while here.”
For most fans, this was their first chance to see Towns in person, and while it was just a scrimmage, the former Kentucky star didn’t disappoint.
In 27 minutes (three quarters of nine minutes), Towns finished with 24 points and 15 rebounds, leading his team to a win.
"I just wanted to play. This was my first exhibition game, scrimmage, whatever you want to call it since the Final Four," Towns said. "... I'm glad I was hitting a lot of shots today."
Zach LaVine finished with 25 points, while putting on a show (per usual). Lorenzo Brown added 11, while Jones had nine points and eight assists. Andrew Wiggins, who didn’t play much, scored five points.
The Wolves were introduced to the crowd and they didn’t hold back their excitement for the team. Jones, of course, received a strong cheer. Towns’ was a little louder. Wiggins, the last season’s Rookie of the Year, ranked first.
After the introductions, Towns addressed the crowd, thanked them for coming out and told them to get ready for a show.
He wasn’t lying. In warmups, he showed fans a between-the-legs dunk. In the game, he hit a deep three-pointer, something that Wolves fans were hoping he could bring to the NBA.
“He’s been impressive,” Saunders said. “He’s getting more comfortable as each practice goes on. He’s finding places where he can pick his spots… We’re trying to put him in positions where he can succeed.”
What might have been more impressive than Towns was the crowd at the Target Center. Showing that kind of support in the middle of the offseason isn't very common.
"I thought it was awesome," Towns said. "I thought the crowd was absolutely amazing. I can't believe all the excitement on the Minnesota Timberwolves fans and I'm so excited to bring that to them."
- Shabazz Muhammad did not play in the scrimmage, but he was in attendance. He will be going to train in San Francisco for the remainder of the offseason.
- There were Towns and Jones jerseys available at the team’s pro shop located in the skyway. Many fans wasted no time ripping the tags off and wearing them for the scrimmage.
- The Wolves will practice tomorrow afternoon before taking off for Las Vegas for Summer League. They’ll play D’Angelo Russell and the Lakers on Friday at 7:30 p.m. The game will air on NBA TV.