The Minnesota Timberwolves have won four games in a row.
They’re coming off their highest-scoring game of the season as they visit the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday night.
“You’re seeing a maturation of a young team finding their own,” center Karl-Anthony Towns said after scoring a season-high 40 points in a 141-123 victory at Houston on Sunday. “I think everyone in the NBA is seeing an identity being built in Minnesota, something that I think has been lacking in this organization for a long, long time.”
Towns, who had nine rebounds and seven assists, made 15 of 25 shots against the Rockets, including 4 of 6 from 3-point range.
“They didn’t really have a matchup for him out there,” Timberwolves coach Chris Finch said.
Minnesota, which shot 50.9 percent from the floor, had 74 points in the paint and 31 fast-break points.
“I think we are trusting each other a little more (on offense),” said guard D’Angelo Russell, who had 22 points and 10 assists. “When we trust each other, I feel like we can get our rhythm throughout the game without even having to really work for it. We have guys on our team that force teams to really lock in on them defensively.”
Jarred Vanderbilt had career-highs in points (21) and rebounds (19). He made eight dunks in an indication of how well the Wolves moved the ball in getting 37 assists on 55 baskets.
“We’re just moving the ball. I feel like we’re being decisive,” Vanderbilt said. “Everyone’s moving, passing and just making stuff happen. We’ve been getting into our actions, executing.”
The Pelicans have lost four of five games after a 105-101 loss at Toronto on Sunday.
“It’s just a tough loss overall for us,” coach Willie Green said of a game that featured 10 lead changes and seven ties.
New Orleans had a three-point lead with less than three minutes remaining, but Fred VanVleet made two 3-pointers and the Raptors grabbed three of their 15 offensive rebounds in the final minute to complete their sixth consecutive victory.
“We were right there,” Green said. “We had opportunities to win the game. We did a lot of good things to put ourselves in that position. But down the stretch, we have to have a mindset of when shots go up, we have to turn and find bodies. We didn’t do a great job of that.”
Jonas Valanciunas had 20 points and 17 rebounds for the Pelicans, who were outscored 24-6 in second-chance points.
“We stayed in the game until the last second,” Valanciunas said. “We were right there. It’s not an excuse, but we’ve got to do better to win those games. It hurts a lot just losing by three or four points.”
Starting guard Josh Hart didn’t make the trip because of COVID-19 contact tracing but is slated to return for Tuesday’s game. Backup guard Tomas Satoransky (health and safety protocol) has missed four consecutive games but also is expected back.
“We put ourselves in the position to win the game, and that’s what you want,” Green said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t come up with the win. Our goal is to continue to improve. We just have to keep our foot on the gas. A lot of basketball left.”
–Field Level Media