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Wolves Drop Third Straight in Loss to Celtics

by Julian Andrews
Web Editorial Associate Follow

The Wolves couldn’t overcome a tough second quarter against the Celtics on Thursday night, losing 117-109 to Boston at Target Center. They remain in sixth place in the Western Conference. 

The Wolves hung with the Celtics through the first quarter thanks to hot shooting from Nemanja Bjelica and smart play around the basket from Taj Gibson. However, Boston held Karl-Anthony Towns scoreless, and Kyrie Irving and Marcus Morris led the Celtics to a 35-28 lead at the end of the period.

Things took a turn for the worse in the second. While Towns got in on the action with six points including an absolutely ferocious jam over Aron Baynes, the Wolves couldn’t slow the Celtics down, and struggled to muster much offense of their own. They trailed 60-46 going into the second half. 

The Wolves showed some signs of life coming out of the break. Towns looked energized and played aggressively, locking down on defense including an awesome rejection of Baynes. Baynes will be having nightmares about Towns tonight. Towns also gathered several offensive rebounds that led to scores or trips to the line. Things seemed hopeful when Jamal Crawford came out hot in the fourth quarter, and Gibson cut the Celtics’ lead to five with 9:12 left in the game, but the Celtics responded and came away with the win.

Scary moment midway through the third when Jaylen Brown appeared to land on his head after a dunk. He was down for several minutes, and a stretcher was immediately brought out. Brown was able to get up and walk off under his own power. All the best to him.

Kyrie Irving led the Celtics with 23 points, 7 rebounds, and 8 assists. 

Highlight of the Night:

With four and a half minutes left in the second quarter, Karl-Anthony Towns got the ball from Jeff Teague behind the three-point line, drove past a frozen Kyrie Irving, and absolutely unloaded on Aron Baynes. We’ll call it a dunk, but really Towns elevated over Baynes and threw the ball down through the basket. The force of Towns’ dunk (and a little help from Baynes) knocked him to the floor, but the durable Towns was on his feet in no time. Towns later erased a Baynes layup attempt.

Numbers Game:

  • Though it wasn’t his strongest game of the season, Towns had yet another double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds. He leads the NBA with 56 on the season.
  • Taj Gibson put together an incredibly efficient game, scoring 18 points on 8-10 shooting from the field.
  • The Wolves forced 11 turnovers, but gave up the ball 12 times themselves.
  • All seven of the game’s lead changes and its only tie came during the first period.

Player of the Game:

Nemanja Bjelica had a career-high 30 points on 11-16 shooting from the field, and 6-9 from three (also a career high). Bjelica’s play was a bright spot in what was otherwise a difficult night for the Wolves. His ability to shoot from the outside and finish at the rim, along with his solid defense, will be a valuable asset for the team down the stretch.

Up Next:

The Wolves stay in Minnesota to play the Warriors on Sunday afternoon in another national TV game. Tipoff is set for 2:30 p.m. on ABC and 8:30 WCCO.