No, the Minnesota Timberwolves didn’t shoot well from the field Monday in New Orleans. And, no, they didn’t let the lowly Pelicans hang around because of it.
More impressive than Minnesota’s convincing 110-96 victory over New Orleans — the Wolves’ fourth straight win, all of which coming by double-digits — was the manner in which it came.
It came from defense, which has been a staple for these early-season Wolves. It came from points off turnovers. It came from second-chance points off the team’s newfound commitment to the offensive glass.
It came from all the little things that good teams do on the nights when shots aren’t falling. That was the case for Minnesota (8-9) on the road Monday. The team shot just 40% from the field and 23% from deep. D’Angelo Russell and Anthony Edwards combined to shoot just 4 for 21 from the field for 14 points over the first three quarters
That did little to slow down the Wolves’ train of recent success. Minnesota led by 20 points through three quarters.
The Wolves scored 28 points on 23 forced turnovers, scored 26 points on 21 offensive rebounds and held New Orleans to 6-for-32 shooting from 3-point range.
All five Wolves starters scored in double figures.
That’s not to say Minnesota’s recent run of success against less-than-stellar opponents proves the Timberwolves are a good team. But they’ve proven they are, at a minimum, a step above the bad ones.
San Antonio, Sacramento and New Orleans (3-16) clearly aren’t in the same class as Minnesota at the moment. Ahead of this four-game stretch against beatable opponents, Timberwolves coach Chris Finch noted it was an opportunity for Minnesota to win games and make up ground in the Western Conference standings.
The Wolves dispatched each of their last four opponents with relative ease. They did so by controlling their last three games from start to finish, something even the league’s best teams have difficulty doing.
Karl-Anthony Towns got Minnesota off to a strong start Monday. New Orleans single-covered the all-star big man, and he made the Pelicans pay. Towns had eight points before you could blink in the first quarter, and he finished with 28 points and 10 rebounds on 10 for 21 shooting.
The next step for the Wolves is to see if they can punch above their perceived weight class. They’ll get to take on a heavyweight Wednesday at Target Center, when the Jimmy Butler-led Miami Heat come to Target Center for a pre-Thanksgiving basketball feast.