Can this Andrew Wiggins dunk turn around the Timberwolves fortunes?
Andrew Wiggins had himself a game against the Denver Nuggets last night. He scored a season high 40 points in 38 minutes, carrying the Timberwolves to a 112–99 win. The highlight of his performance was no doubt this soul snatching dunk performed over a helpless Nikola Jokic:
The dunk was an exclamation point in what was a good win for the struggling T-Wolves. They were able to bounce back from a tough loss to the defending champs the night before and get a rare win on the back end of a back-to-back in Denver’s high altitude.
This was the most aggressive I’ve seen Wiggins play this year, and that aggression paid off, he was able to get eight of his 40 points on the line, and when Denver’s defense started sagging off him he got off some easy mid-range jumpers.
Minnesota leaned heavily on Wiggins as well as Karl-Anthony-Towns in the win. Towns was dominant on the glass, pulling in 19 rebounds while scoring 24 points and being a general pain in Jokic’s ass. Jokic had a rough night against the Wolves, shooting just 6–19 and found himself getting T’d up after throwing a punch at Towns late in the game.
The Nuggets played without four of their core players: Danilo Gallinari, Emmanuel Mudiay, Kenneth Faried and Wilson Chandler. Denver was forced to throw a freshly acquired Mason Plumlee into the fray. Plumlee didn’t play horrible, he scored 11 points and and grabbed 11 rebounds in 34 minutes. The problem with playing a new guy so many minutes is that it really hampers the flow on offense.
With so few offensive options Minnesota was able to center their defense around Jokic, and it showed. He wasn’t just missing threes, there were a couple of occasions where the second year wunderkind blew wide open shots at the basket. In his defense, even though he had a bad shooting night Jokic was able to pull down 14 rebounds and swat away four shots in 34 minutes.
I was really high on the Timberwolves coming into the season, and like the majority of the NBA watching public have been disappointed in how they’ve played under first year Head Coach Tom Thibodeau. The defense has not improved in the way I thought it would, but if last night’s game is any indication, this is a team that is capable of making big improvements in the second half of the season.
The Wiggins dunk felt like a moment for the Wolves young star. It was the cherry of what was already a great game, and hopefully it’s a moment that he builds on as we go into the break. If he continues to play like he did last night the Minnesota will be back on the right track, and the hype will start anew.