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Three Observations From Wolves' Win Over Warriors

by Julian Andrews
Web Editorial Associate Follow

The Wolves earned arguably their biggest win of the season on Sunday, beating the defending-champion Warriors 109-103 at Target Center.

With the win, the Wolves moved into fifth in the Western Conference and snapped a three-game losing streak. The Wolves are 0.2 percentage points behind the Pelicans for fourth place and have the same record as the sixth-place Thunder. The Wolves, however, have the 3-1 regular season tiebreaker over OKC.

Here are three observations from the Wolves’ win.

Clutch KAT

Karl-Anthony Towns was not letting another game slip away.

Towns had already tallied his 57th double-double of the season in the first half of the game, and he kept the pressure on in the second half. With the game tied at 84 heading into the final period, Towns came out strong and carried the Wolves to a win.

He scored 14 points on 6-for-10 shooting in the fourth quarter and finished the game with a final line of 31 points (13-24 from the field), and 16 rebounds.

Outside the numbers, Towns really looked like a superstar last night. He bullied (2017 Defensive Player of the Year) Draymond Green in the post and displayed impressive command over his game. Remember that Towns is only 22, and he’s already one of the most talented offensive players in the league. As his three-point shooting improves, Towns is getting awfully close to being practically unguardable. Kid’s got game.

Every game counts for the Wolves. If Towns continues to deliver like he did against the Warriors, especially towards the end of close games, the team will be in good shape to make the playoffs.

Defense Beats Champions

Coming into their game with the Wolves, Golden State averaged 115.8 points per game. The Wolves only allowed them 103. The Warriors also scored only 19 in the deciding final quarter of play.

Notably, the Wolves held the Steph Curry-less Warriors to 40.7 percent from the field and 27.8 percent shooting beyond the arc. That is a significant reduction for a team that is shooting 50.9 percent from the field and 39.7 percent from three on the season.

Kevin Durant (39 points) and Klay Thompson (21 points), were always going to score, but the Wolves made them take a lot of shots to get there. The two combined for 54 shots, making only 19.

With offensive stars like Towns and Andrew Wiggins on the team, the Wolves should be confident in their ability to score the basketball. Minnesota’s success for the rest of the season and hopefully the postseason will likely be determined by their ability to get stops on the defensive end. This game provides a blueprint for that success.

Wiggins, Getting to the Rim

Andrew Wiggins quietly had a phenomenal game, especially shooting the ball. He made nine of 16 shots (56.3 percent) and finished with 23 points and a team high +21 plus/minus.

Wiggins’ success on the offensive end can be attributed to his aggressive approach to finding shots closer to the basket. Six of his nine made field goals came from inside 10 feet.

This approach makes sense for Wiggins. He is an absolutely elite finisher at the rim—making 70.9 percent of his attempts inside three feet—and is shooting 56.3 percent inside 10 feet on the season. Wiggins only missed one shot in the paint all night.

Wiggins’ penetration also opens up other areas of his game. In Sunday’s game he was 2-for-4 from three, with both of his makes coming from his teammates finding him for open shots. When Wiggins is being aggressive and driving to the hoop, his defenders have to give him more space, or risk being burned by his speed and athleticism.

The Wolves play tomorrow night in Washington. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. The game will air on Fox Sports North and 830 WCCO.