By: Dan Slaubaugh
From everyone at On The Prowl, Merry Christmas. We hope your days will be filled with joy, laughter, and Wolves wins through the New Year.
For the second straight year, Christmas brings a different taste to Wolves fans as their favorite team will lace it up for the second time in franchise history on this special day.
While excitement is certainly high for tonight's game against the Los Angeles Lakers (11-20), Minnesota (20-13) needs to take advantage of a winnable game and gain separation from competing rivals in the West.
What: Wolves @ Lakers
Where: Staples Center. Los Angeles, California.
When: 9:30 PM CT
Where to watch: TNT
Where to listen: 830 WCCO
What to watch for:
Kyle Kuzma: With Lonzo Ball injured (shoulder sprain), the Wolves can place more focus on the better but less hyped rookie who’s played so well that Luke Walton has inserted him into the starting lineup at the four. Averaging 17 points and 7 rebounds per game, Kuzma has quickly established himself as one of the young pillars of a rebuilding roster. Personally, I’m excited to watch his high-octane energy and talent on display tonight on a national stage.
Bench production: Providing just 25.5 points per game, the fourth fewest in the league, the Wolves bench has performed poorly through 33 games. Lately, however, they’ve performed respectably in large thanks to Jamal Crawford. After a three game stretch of 2, 2, and 6 points, Crawford has responded by shooting an efficient 51.2 percent from the floor on 13.7 shots per game. They could be getting back PF Nemanja Bjelica tonight, who was a key contributor in the Wolves rotation but hasn’t played since November 22.
Patton in uniform: Minnesota’s 16th overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft will don a Wolves uniform for the first time in his NBA career tonight. Patton was initially assigned to Iowa on Dec. 3. He appeared in six games, averaging 9.5 points on 48.9% shooting, 5.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in 17.5 minutes per game. His role tonight is up in the air, but if head coach Tom Thibodeau calls his name, all eyes will be watching the young rookie.
-The Wolves are on an island as the No. 4 team in the conference right now, several games behind the Big Three (Golden State, Houston, San Antonio) but a few games in front of the likes of Oklahoma City, Denver, and New Orleans.
-Over the last 11 games, Jimmy Butler is averaging 26.3 points, 5.6 rebounds and 4.9 assists.
-The Sports Emmy Award-winning team of Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Shaquille O'Neal will call the game action, in addition to their traditional pregame, halftime and postgame coverage, live from Staples Center.
Minnesota: PG Jeff Teague, SG Andrew Wiggins, SF Jimmy Butler, PF Taj Gibson, C Karl-Anthony Towns
Los Angeles: PG Jordan Clarkson, SG Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SF Brandon Ingram, PF Kyle Kuzma, C Andrew Bogut
Wolves win 109-100. Wiggins pours in 33 points because it’s a national TV game.. KAT grabs another double-double. Jimmy Butler gives us the best Christmas gift we could possibly ask by turning to LaVar Ball and shushing him after nailing a dagger three-pointer.
Thanks for reading. Enjoy the game. Have a wonderful Christmas.