The Timberwolves can point to Wednesday nights as a prime example of how everything is supposed to look on the floor when things are working right across the board – and with the starting line-up in particular.
D’Angelo Russell found teammates for open buckets, Anthony Edwards was efficient and effective, Jaden McDaniels found open shots and came out in rotation, Karl-Anthony Towns provided his usual strikes and Rudy Gobert dominated from the inside. In addition, everyone defended effectively and with the right intensity.
The end result was a 115-101 win over the Pacers in Indianapolis.
“I’ve just told the boys that that was hands down our best performance of the season. Wire to wire, both ends,” said Timberwolves coach Chris Finch. “Even though we had high turnovers, we played very, very well offensively. Defensively, I thought we’d implemented everything we talked about. Very, very gratifying. Hopefully it’s another step to take many more, but another step in the right direction.”
A game after counting zero shot attempts, Gobert finished with 21 points and 16 rebounds. The Timberwolves found him for a series of easy buckets, including an impressive court from Edwards in the fourth quarter for a Gobert finish that helped end the game. Towns had 23 points remaining with 11 rebounds and eight assists
Minnesota overtook the Pacers 50-30 and scored 74 points in the paint to Indiana’s 38.
Indiana just didn’t have the size to compete with the Timberwolves — an advantage Minnesota hoped to play most of the season but eventually capitalized on Wednesday.
Russell added 15 points and 11 assists. Edwards recorded 19 points and seven rebounds and McDaniels had 18 points with four blocked shots while also pinning guard Tyrese Haliburton. Indiana’s young star walked off the field just 4 for 15. Indiana shot just 39 percent from the field while Minnesota’s offense continued to hum.
“Defensively we implemented the game plan really well. Kudos to Jaden McDaniels,” said Finch. “Set the tone at the top. Rudy patrols the paint.”
Myles Turner exploded with 15 points in the third quarter to take Indiana to two. He finished with 31. But Minnesota extended their lead again to 10 by the end of the frame thanks to 13 points in the quarter from Towns and nine from McDaniels.
Both teams went into the night on winning streaks – Indiana topping five straight wins and Minnesota on four – but with victories against less than impressive competition. Wednesday was an opportunity for the two streaking teams to get a better picture of where they were really measuring.
The wolves have to like where they are right now.
“We knew it was going to be tough. These types of teams gave us problems. Teams that play fast and move the ball well have really given us problems,” said Finch. “A big step forward for us to be out there ready and stay locked in no matter what.”
Jordan McLaughlin missed the game with a left calf strain. The reserve guard had one of his best performances of the season against Miami on Monday, in which he posted a season-high four 3-pointers.