Towns provides the dagger as Washington's rally falls short
The Wizards lost a tough one last night, in the closing seconds. Karl-Anthony Towns and the Minnesota Timberwolves rallied and held on to beat the Washington Wizards 116-111. KAT had a huge night, scoring 37 points and grabbing 10 rebounds on 13-of-17 shooting. He was an issue for Washington all game, but it wasn't just him. The Wizards surrendered 64 points in the paint, they didn't do a good job of keeping perimeter players out of the paint. Washington did get big nights out of Markieff Morris and Bradley Beal. Morris was hot all night, scoring 27 points on 10-of-15 shooting. Beal scored 19 points, but struggled down the stretch. Tomas Satoransky did a little bit of everything with a line of 15 points, eight rebounds, seven assists, and three steals. The Wizards held a nine point lead in the fourth quarter, but couldn't extend it. It was a poor defensive outing at a time when they can't afford to drop games.
Washington cut their eight point deficit to three with 1:52 left, prompting a timeout by Minnesota. The veteran Jamaal Crawford answered for the Wolves, with a driving layup. Satoransky drew a foul and went to the line on the ensuing Wizards possession, he knocked down both free throws. Washington got a stop and then Beal headed to the line with his team down three. He had the chance to cut the deficit to one, but he split the pair at the line. Down two, all the Wizards needed was a stop. Towns had been getting his way all game long, but he only had six points in the fourth quarter. But three of those came at the worst time for Washington. The Wizards had been trying to get the ball out of his hands, but he did a good job of finding shooters. On this particular possession, Washington again got the ball out his hands early, but Minnesota got it back to him in the corner with the shot clock running down.
Towns caught the ball with Mahinmi closing in fast, Karl pump-faked and Ian flew by. Towns then calmly sank the corner triple, Mahinmi attempted to recover but the release point is kind of high for a seven footer. The shot didn't even touch the rim, giving Minnesota a five point lead. Markieff would score on the next possession, but it looked like Washington wanted a three. The Wizards found life when Bjelica inbounded the ball after Keef's bucket. It was a bad pass and with Beal providing good pressure on Wiggins, the ball was just too far outside. The Wizards got the ball back with 15.3 seconds left, they inbounded the ball to Brad. Towns provided good ball pressure and it seemed like Beal lost his balance and started to fall out of bounds. He tried to pass the ball back to Tomas, but Jeff Teague jumped in and stole the ball, finishing it on the opposite end with a dunk.
The Wizards got off to a good start, Morris and Satoransky combined to score 12 of their team's first 14 points. While the Wolves didn't shoot great, Washington did a bad job of guarding them in the paint. Minnesota scored 18 of their 24 points in the paint, Towns led the way with six. Despite the fast start, Washington led by just two heading into the second period.
Minnesota started the quarter with a quick 7-0 run, Jamaal Crawford was the spark that ignited it. The Wizards would respond as Ian Mahinmi helped settle things in the paint, but ending possessions with rebounds. His presence at the rim also helped Washington, this was something they were lacking prior to him entering the game.
Towns seemed to make it his personal business to end Washington runs, he scored eight points in the quarter. Routinely stopping the bleeding whenever his team struggled offensively. Ramon Sessions got the crowd into it when Washington forced a turnover and he dunked in transition, that cut the deficit to three. Mahinmi blocked a shot on he next possession and then Mike Scott found him for a dunk, Washington would hold a three point lead a couple minutes later after a shot off glass by Beal. Keef buried a three with 2:18 left in the half to give Washington an eight point lead. Once again Towns responded, he drew a foul to get to the line.
Bradley appeared to get the last shot of the half when he score with 25 seconds left, but poor interior defense led to a Teague layup.
The Wizards led 59-53 at the break, Markieff led the way with 14 points on 5-of-9 shooting. Tomas had a decent line as well; with 11 points, five assists, four rebounds and no turnovers. Towns led all scorers with 17 points, the biggest issue was the amount of points scored in the paint by Minnesota. They score 34 of their 53 points in the painted area. Washington held them to just 1-of-9 from beyond the arc, but struggled with them inside.
Back and forth. Literally described he play in the third period, both teams were trading baskets. Towns and Morris both stepped up for their respective teams earl in the quarter, each scoring seven quick points. Washington really found their stride offensively, they shot 12-of-18 from the floor and assisted on six of the 12 made baskets. Minnesota wasn't too shabby either, shooting 10-of-19 from the floor. Late in the quarter, Washington's second unit carved out an eight point lead. They closed the quarter strong, taking a three point lead to eight in the last 1:38 seconds of the quarter. The shot that extended it to eight was interesting to say the least, Ramon Sessions banked in a fade away from about 16 feet out.
Having gone 2-of-11 from the floor over the first three quarters, Nemanja Bjelica (17 points) found his shot in the fourth quarter. He started thins off with a three pointer, his first of three of the period. Still, Washington was able to hold Minnesota at bay, leading by nine with 9:18 left in the game. Then everything changed, after a jump ball the Wolves rattled off a 17-1 run.
Towns started it with a three pointer, then Bjelica scored seven consecutive points. Wiggins (16 points) got going as well, he picked up his defense in the second half and made more of an impact offensively as well. Washington found themselves down seven with 5:13 left in the game. The Wizards would respond, Beal got a much needed and-1 coming out of a timeout. Wiggins bailed out his team a couple of possessions later by hitting a highly contested pull up jumper late in the shot clock. Again the Wolves started to pull away, but Beal ended the run with a triple. The Wizards cut the deficit to three when Tomas picked off a cross court pass, he raced down the floor and Wiggins was in pursuit. Satoransky started to euro-step and Wiggins left his feet, Tomas went with a behind the back pass to Porter for the easy slam.
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