By: Drew Mahowald
After the Minnesota Timberwolves fell to the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night, it didn't seem like a win the following night against the Los Angeles Clippers was very likely. They were on the second leg of a back-to-back after a long battle with the Lakers, and the Clippers had won 14 straight against Minnesota going into Wednesday's nationally-televised contest.
However, Andrew Wiggins made it known early that he wouldn't let his team go down without a fight, and his scoring propelled Minnesota to a 108-102 victory over the Clippers. He tallied 21 first half points en route to 31 points for the game on 12-for-21 from the field and 3-for-5 from three-point range. It marks two straight games Wiggins has scored 30 points, and his seventh game of his sophomore season.
While Wiggins was being Wiggins, rookie phenom Karl-Anthony Towns dealt with foul trouble early that forced him to play limited minutes in the first half. After recording exactly zero points and three rebounds in the first 24 minutes, Towns turned it on in the second half. He shot 7-for-11 from the field, scored 17 points and grabbed nine rebounds in the second half, a monstrous performance that helped keep Los Angeles center DeAndre Jordan in check.
Ricky Rubio was his typical self for the Wolves, making a number of key plays that won't show up in the box score but nonetheless had a huge impact in the outcome of the game. Overall, his final stat line included eight points on 1-for-6 shooting, five rebounds and seven assists.
Zach LaVine's 17 points and Gorgui Dieng's 12 points and 10 rebounds helped pace the rest of Minnesota's scoring efforts.
Chris Paul led the Clippers with 22 points and eight assits, while Jamal Crawford added 21 points off the bench. DeAndre Jordan made his presence felt in the paint by notching 18 points and 15 rebounds, but it wasn't enough to overcome Towns' strong second half.
Although the Timberwolves have typically been a very underwhelming team in the third quarter, tonight Minnesota used a 14-0 run in the third quarter to help propel them to victory tonight. The Clippers began the third quarter sinking just one of their first 13 shot attempts, which means credit needs to be given to Timberwolves interim head coach Sam Mitchell. He made some solid adjustments at the half and set up a solid gameplan to open the second half, and the Wolves executed it brilliantly.
Yep, that's right. Sam Mitchell deserves credit. You probably won't read a sentence like that very often, so maybe take a screen shot or something.
However, you look at it, tonight was a big win for the Timberwolves after a rough month of January. It was reminiscent of the early season road victory in Chicago and Atlanta that had fans excited before the Wolves went on to lose 28 of 34 games.
Minnesota's next action will be this Saturday against those Chicago Bulls at Target Center. Hopefully, the Wolves can carry the momentum from this game back home to earn a season sweep of the Bulls.
-- The Wolves snapped a 24-game losing streak in which Kevin Garnett is inactive.
-- Those of you who bash Tayshaun Prince (although most of the time it's warranted) should check out this stat: J.J. Redick, while being defended by Prince most of the time tonight, scored just five points on 1-for-8 shooting. Oh, and Prince led the Wolves with a +/- rating of +19 in the six-point win.
-- Andrew Wiggins has now tallied two straight games with 30 points twice this season.
-- On The Prowl founder Dan Slaubaugh and yours truly will be in attendance for Saturday's home matchup against the Bulls. If you see a couple of fans with their shirts of and paint on their chests, that will be us (not really). Follow us on Twitter at @DanielSlaubaugh and @MNSportsDrewM for updates from the game on Saturday.