In spite of missing the services of several key players, including the likes of three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert and center-forward Karl-Anthony Towns, the Minnesota Timberwolves were still able to come out victorious in a 150-126 win against the struggling Chicago Bulls.
Aside from clinching their 15th win in 30 games this season, the victory was also one for the books for the Minneapolis-based squad, who by the 150-point outing, successfully broke their franchise record of most points tallied in a single game.
Minnesota’s previous record was 149, recorded after a 10-point win against the San Antonio Spurs last season. Does this indicate that the Wolves can break more franchise and probably league records in the coming games?
Now standing eighth in the Western Conference with a 16-15 win-loss card, Minnesota’s chances of a back-to-back appearance in the playoffs are still uncertain. With the race to the next round tightening up, the Wolves will have to up their game in order to secure a ticket to the playoffs stage.
How long can the Wolves survive without the Gobert-Towns duo? Moreover, did the record-breaking performance make any change in the team’s NBA 2022 odds?
MORE THAN JUST A RECORD
The record-breaking performance can definitely serve as a huge morale booster for Minnesota, but they can also think of it as more than just a record.
Playing without usual starters Gobert and KAT, the T-Wolves was able to push the Bulls to give up the most number of points in 40 years, which is also the latter’s fourth-most in regular season franchise history.
This alone proves that even without its main stars, Minnesota can survive as it has a couple of players to bank on. The team’s bench, led by Knight, Rivers, and Forbes, stepped up right when the team needed them the most, which can indicate a good future for the Wolves.
Besides showing the reliability of their bench, the record-breaking performance also exhibited how deadly Minnesota can be once they find their footing offensively. In the game, the team posted an impressive 65/53/81 shooting split, one of their bests this season.
Although it is not what a lot would expect from a team with highly-efficient shooters, the win says a lot about how the Wolves are peaking at this juncture of the season.
In addition, Minnesota tallied an outstanding 52.3 defensive rating in their record-breaking showing against the Bulls, which is in fact a few points higher than when they had Gobert on the floor. This goes to show how solid the team’s defensive pattern can still be even without the Stifle Tower’s presence. How much more if Gobert’s finally back on the court, right?
Timberwolves score their 150th point of the game. pic.twitter.com/FL3JCkfCYG
— Rob Perez (@WorldWideWob) December 19, 2022
Despite the fact that Minnesota has a couple of guns to rely on, they still should not be comfortable with having a few of their players sidelined by injuries every other game.
After acquiring a right calf strain in a loss against the Wizards in late November, Towns was reported to be out for four to six weeks. He was expected to return to the court as soon as late December, but this does not seem to be the case for KAT as of the moment.
On the other hand, the 7-foot-1 Gobert also missed his third straight game this season due to a left ankle sprain. Although Naz Reid has been doing great in covering for Gobert’s absence, it was the Frenchman’s veteran defensive tactics that the Wolves have been missing. Gobert will try to suit up for the Wolves in their Wednesday rematch against the Mavericks.
Apart from these two stars, veteran Kyle Anderson is also sidelined by back spasms. The 6-foot-9 forward guards’ all-around performances have been instrumental in keeping the Wolves’ playoff hopes alive this season. Anderson is also expected to return in their game against Dallas.
To add to Minnesota’s burdens, Jordan McLaughlin and Taurean Prince are also out due to a calf and shoulder injury, respectively.
With five players sidelined by injuries, the Wolves cannot afford to lose any of their guns now. A healthier team with lots of options to rely on will most likely provide better outcomes for that particular team, and the Wolves are no exception to this.
On the brighter side, the absence of the said players gave the rest of the squad an opportunity to showcase their talents. Ultimately, this can give the rest of the league a run for their money, especially once the Minnesota squad is finally complete.
Christmas came early this year 💙 pic.twitter.com/cqYLaiPyYF
— Minnesota Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) December 19, 2022
CONSISTENCY IS KEY
A lot of times this season, the Wolves have shown inconsistency both offensively and defensively, resulting in their 15 losses so far. These include mid-game collapses, on-and-off individual outputs, and out-of-sync performances by the starters.
However, the historic battle against the Bulls exhibited otherwise for Minnesota, who immediately recovered from a slow first-quarter showing and had since never looked back. The Wolves also showcased a couple of runs backed by good team chemistry that eventually helped them snatch the game.
This is what’s going to save Minnesota this season — consistency. A strong connection amongst the team can aid in establishing creative plays, which can ruin their opponents’ patterns and eventually earn them wins. It is a good thing that the Wolves have been slowly picking up their game at this part of the season, and say they become consistent in this aspect, Minnesota can easily steal a seat in the playoffs.
150 POINTS. A new single-game franchise record.
Ant – 37 PTS / 7 REB / 11 AST / 2 STL
DLo – 28 PTS / 2 REB / 8 AST
Nate – 16 PTS / 2 REB / 3 AST
Jaden – 15 PTS / 8 REB / 5 AST / 3 BLK
Austin – 14 PTS / 4 REB / 1 AST pic.twitter.com/p95PJBY90P
— Minnesota Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) December 19, 2022
It was definitely more than just a record-breaking performance for Minnesota. The team can view the game from a couple of perspectives; at the same time, they can also garner a few lessons they can carry throughout the rest of the season’s duration.
The Minnesota Timberwolves will attempt to extend their winning streak to four as they face the Dallas Mavericks once more on Wednesday at the Target Center.
Credits on Featured Image: Bobak Ha’Eri, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons