To open up 2017-18 preseason, the Minnesota Timberwolves came away with a 108-99 road win over the Los Angeles Lakers in Anaheim.
The Wolves started Jeff Teague, Jimmy Butler, Andrew Wiggins, Taj Gibson and Karl-Anthony Towns. That group started the game well. And despite playing just 12 minutes, Butler finished with 10 points. Those 12 minutes per designed by Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau.
Minnesota jumped to a 61-52 halftime lead, and despite a rough fourth quarter on both ends (the Lakers outscored the Wolves 25-22) the Wolves were able to hold onto the win.
“It’s a baseline, there was some good like to start the game was good,” Thibodeau said. “ . . . I liked the way they started off the game. They played well on both ends.”
Shabazz Muhammad was a huge sparkplug for the Wolves, scoring 22 points in 29 minutes. Camp has been raving about Muhammad thus far and that proved true on Saturday night.
Gibson finished nearly finished with a 18-point, nine-rebound double-double. Towns scored 15 points and shot a perfect 3-for-3 from the 3-point line in 20 minutes. Gorgui Dieng came off the bench after starting 82 games last season and played efficiently, scoring 14 points while hauling in eight rebounds.
Teague, the team’s new point guard, showed he can do it all, scoring 11 points while dishing out nine assists.
For the Lakers, rookie Kyle Kuzma (not Lonzo Ball) finished with 19 points. Julius Randle added 15 points and seven rebounds, while Jordan Clarkson scored 14. Last year’s No. 2 overall pick Brandon Ingram scored 10 points in 22 minutes.
- The Lakers struggled from the 3-point line, shooting just 5-for-30.
- The Wolves were great from the free-throw line, shooting 28-for-35 (80 percent).
- Ball played in 36 minutes, a game high, and finished with five points, seven rebounds and eight assists. He shot just 2-for-9 from the field and 1-for-5 from the 3-point line.
Leader of the Pack: Taj Gibson
In his Wolves debut, power forward Taj Gibson finished with 18 points to go with nine rebounds, two assists and a block. The impressive part of Gibson’s game is that he shot a perfect 2-for-2 from the 3-point line.
That was something Thibodeau saw during the last week of training camp, but did not see during his tenure in Chicago.
“(It adds) a lot,” Thibodeau said. “I think the corner three’s big, and he’s not hesitating which is good. All our bigs are letting go so that’s good. And our wings will get theirs as well.”
Highlight of the Night:
With about seven minutes in the third quarter, Teague had his pass stolen by Ball. As Ball thought he turned the corner for greener pastures, Teague picked the rookie’s pocket and dished it to Gibson for the easy bucket. That put the Wolves up 76-56.
The Wolves flew to China after Saturday night’s game. The Wolves will play the Warriors on Oct. 5 in Shenzhen. Tipoff is set for 12:30 a.m. CT, 1:30 p.m. local time.