Timberwolves Game Review 3: Lakers

3/24/17: Timberwolves at Lakers

Andrew Wiggins

He didn’t quite hit the career-high of 47 that he set against the Lakers earlier this year, but Wiggins put on a big performance at Staples. He got to the rack early and often, and then had it going from deep as a counter. Many of his points were the result of a drive and kick that opened him up on the weak side.

Karl-Anthony Towns

Towns was one of the bigger bodies on the court for much of the game when the Lakers played small lineups. Instead of stretching stumbling 5’s out to the arc on pick-and-pops, Towns scored all but 5 of his 25 points in the paint.

Karl-Anthony Towns Shotchart per NBA.com

 

Unlike the game against New Orleans, Los Angeles used aggressive hedging from their bigs on ballscreens, leaving KAT a lane to the basket. He showed off his excellent jump hook and shot 70% in the paint.

While Towns booked a respectable 30% of Minnesota’s total rebounds (he played 80% of the game), the T’Wolves lost the rebound battle by double digits. The Lakers dared KAT to beat them on the boards and he only managed to create an additional 4 possessions. Meanwhile, LA smoked the Wolves for 28 Fast Break Points. With only 6 of Minnesota’s 14 turnovers being live-ball TO’s, the brunt of the Lakers break points came off defensive rebounds. Towns will increase the Timberwolves chances of winning when he can be more a dominant interior force.

Team Defense

Minnesota opened the game with some of the better defensive execution than they had displayed in recent contests. The effort balanced a proper dedication to the prevent-middle tactic with superb switching communication to barricade LA’s weaving perimeter attack. Towns did a nice job of hedging screens and getting back after stopping drives.

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After tinkering with unusual lineups to counteract the Lakers’ NBA Du Jour¬†style of play, Thibs settled on a squad that threw all 3 point guards onto the floor. Rubio, Dunn, and Jones fused into a pestering flock, forcing Los Angeles to cough up the ball numerous times during a chaotic 2nd quarter.

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Kris Dunn

Considering my partiality to Patrick Beverley, Dunn has quickly become one of my favorite T’Wolves to watch. Dunn’s high-geared motor is as reliable as a Honda, but his judgement can be volatile. For every steal he does snatch, you can see why he gambles, and mostly wins.

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Yet, he still will let his ferocity get the better of him at some point of the game.

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He finished with 7 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 blocks and 3 fouls in a season-high 35 minutes.

Lost Lead

Wiggins was cruising, the lead hovered between 10-15 points for much of the 3rd quarter, Rubio had 10+ assists, the Lakers had twice as many turnovers, Towns threw down a showstopping cradle dunk… so what happened?

Towns left midway through the 3rd quarter for his customary rest. The Lakers’ defense upped the ante slightly, and Minnesota started running their lethargic pick-and-rolls and drive-and-kicks.

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Overlooking the nice alley-oop they got Wiggins on a slipped down screen, and an ugly sequence where Wiggins got to the hoop and missed 2 put backs after blowing the contested lay up, the T’Wolves took 4 of their 7 attempts from beyond 15 feet.

3 Quarter Shotchart, per NBA.com

 

When Rubio piloted PNR, Wiggins inhabited the weak side wing (usually with his hands on his knees); this, confusingly, put Dunn in the corner, and the Lakers were thrilled to let a 29% corner 3 point shooter fire away.

Kris Dunn Shotchart, per NBA.com

 

The shot selection in the 4th didn’t improve when KAT returned. The Lakers did a much better job of doubling him and congesting the middle of the floor than they did in the first half. Watch how frequently the Lakers off-ball defenders were able to keep a foot in the paint.

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By the end of the period, the Timberwolves took 10 of their 18 shots from beyond 16 feet, and only made 30%.

4th Quarter Shot Selection 16+ FT, per NBA.com

 

There are few excuses to be made about Minnesota’s incapacitated offensive execution, but they couldn’t catch a break on the defensive end. Jordan Clarkson morphed into Steph Curry and broke his career-high for 3 pointers made in a single game. Corey Brewer summoned his Staples Center spirits¬†and crashed the betting lines in a disheartening Lakers comeback.

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There was little the Timberwolves could do but stare out the window on a flight to Portland as the all-too-familiar feeling of blowing a lead at Halftime set in after losing the Overtime period by 11.

Playbook

Motion Weak

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15 Fist Side Double Tight

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12 Fist Side Double Tight

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14 Pitch Duck In

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15 Pitch Back Wing Get

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Summary
  • With Rubio and Dunn securing 10 defensive rebounds, Dieng only ended with 2 defensive rebounds. He surrendered several boards towards the end of the 3rd, but managed to block a couple of the Lakers’ second-chances. He was an ill-fit to keep up with LA playing Nance Jr. and Randle at the 5 (picking up 5 fouls), and ended with a positive +/- because he wasn’t on the floor for the Lakers’ comeback in the 4th.
  • During an uptick of guard minutes, Shabazz Muhammad only played 12 minutes and scored 0 points on 3 attempts. In those 12 minutes, he dropped to a -20.
  • Casspi played for 14 minutes and the Lakers prevented him from taking a single 3.
  • Dunn finished 1/5 from 3, falling to a -18.
  • Removing Wiggins 5/7, Minnesota shot 2/14 (14%) from 3. Casspi and Rush combined to only take 1 of the 14, and Rush missed it.
  • Rubio took over twice his average number of Free Throws (8/8) drawing whistles on atypical hard drives to the basket. MIN shot 90% on 22 attempts.
  • The Timberwolves blocked 10 shots, and the Lakers still made over 50% of their attempts. Minnesota had 6 more assists, but shot 4% worse.

Tommy Driscoll

@drizmasterflash

tommy@dimetheoryhoops.com

All stats from NBA.com

 

 

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