The Wolves got away with one Sunday as they were just able to squeak out a victory versus the hapless Los Angeles Clippers as Jimmy Butler's fourth quarter heroics gave the Wolves a 112-106 victory.
1. How about Butler's fourth? Butler would score 20 of his 33, going 6-11 from the field in the quarter. On the night Butler was 10-20 from the field, 2-4 from three, and made 11-13 free throws to go along with eight rebounds and four assists, plus a block and a steal. Butler allowed the rest of the team to score the majority of the game, but then completely took over in crunch time to bring the Wolves a victory.
2. Taj Gibson was also very good on this night, as he would score 20 and pull down 11 rebounds. As we go past the quarter mark of this season, Gibson is averaging 11.1 points and 8.3 rebounds per game on 55.2% shooting.
3. The Wolves also had big success in four important categories. Turnovers, rebounding, points in the paint, and making free throws. On the day the Wolves were under 10 turnovers once again, having only seven, they out-rebounded the Clippers 51-43, outscored them in the paint 44-34 and also went to the line 31 times, hitting 28 of them for a 90.3% clip.
1. Although the Wolves won the points in the paint battle, this game was so close because the Wolves let the Clippers shoot 44.1% from three, making 15 on the night, with Austin Rivers nearly matching the Wolves performance from three on the night, by hitting seven all by himself as the Wolves only hit eight.
2. Speaking of Rivers he was unreal in this game, as he scored 30 points, hitting 9-14 from the field, 7-10 from three and 5-7 from the line. He also had five rebounds and five assists in the game.
3. Lastly, the Wolves once again played too few players. I know this has been in practically every game recap recently, but if you look at the difference between the two teams, the Clippers played 11 players, one didn't play due to coach's decision, and one didn't play due to an injury. For the Wolves, only eight players played with one missing due to injury, and four players, FOUR were labeled as DNP-Coach's Decision. Further more the starter who played the least number of minutes was Jeff Teague who played 35. The player on the Clippers who played the most minutes? Austin Rivers with 36. For the Wolves both Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson played 40, and Andrew Wiggins played 38 with Karl-Anthony Towns playing 35. The Clippers got double-digit minutes from all but one of the 11 players they played. At some point, Coach Thibadeau has to trust his bench to play significant minutes or this team won't last into the playoffs.
The Wolves don't get any time off as they head to Memphis to take on the floundering Grizzlies at 7:00 p.m. Monday night, as they look to string together two straight victories for the first time since mid-November.