(Photograph by Harrison Barden/Getty Photographs)
Solely the New Orleans Pelicans can blow out the Los Angeles Clippers and, a couple of video games later, go to extra time in opposition to one of many worst groups within the NBA.
Finally, the Pelicans beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 140-136 in extra time in what was really a hard-fought sport. Possibly a few of you’ll argue with my denomination of the place the Timberwolves are as a crew and that’s honest sufficient.
You’ll be able to say that they’ve struggled with accidents and Covid-19 all season lengthy, that they modified their head coach, and that they’ve barely had their two primary stars out there. All of these issues are true and, when the Timberwolves have D’Angelo Russell and Karl-Anthony Cities on the court docket on the similar time, their report is definitely favorable.
On the similar time, although, it appears like the identical previous story in Minnesota. To some extent, the Timberwolves often are inclined to disappoint through the common season, get eradicated from playoff rivalry, after which look higher to finish the 12 months. It is a vicious cycle of hope and disappointment, typically accelerated by the fun of getting a high decide within the NBA Draft.
This might occur once more this 12 months. The Timberwolves have undisputedly improved beneath new coach Chris Finch, who has modernized their offense and actually began enjoying by means of Cities always. In the event that they get a high three decide this 12 months and pair them with Cities, Russell, and final 12 months’s primary decide Anthony Edwards, then the long run seems to be lots higher.
However on the finish of the day, we’ve to attend for the outcomes. The identical ideas went by means of many’s minds when the T’Wolves obtained Andrew Wiggins or Cities. Nothing modified. It’s too early to inform with Anthony Edwards, however their first season with him goes to finish with draft hopes fairly than playoff aspirations.
On the New Orleans facet of issues, the Pelicans have been as soon as once more with out Steven Adams, that means that Willy Hernangómez obtained his fifth begin of the season. The Pels additionally couldn’t depend on Nickel Alexander-Walker and Josh Hart because of harm, in addition to Didi Louzada who is seemingly nonetheless ready for his work visa to return by means of.
Listed here are the participant grades for the Pels’ extra time win in opposition to the Timberwolves, beginning with my private MVP:
New Orleans Pelicans vs. Minnesota Timberwolves: Grading the perfect participant
This was one of many harder selections I’ve needed to make in these columns, however in the end, I’ve to present it to Zion Williamson.
It was one other unbelievable outing by the Pels’ all-star. Williamson utterly dominated the Timberwolves in each side of the sport and this was particularly obvious in extra time. However earlier than we get there, I’ve to reward Williamson’s willingness to cross in opposition to Minnesota.
This was as pass-happy as I’ve seen him play. That’s to not say that Williamson just isn’t a facilitar. We already know that he could make and execute the fitting reads after coping with all the eye he attracts. In opposition to the Timberwolves, although, he tied his career-high eight assists and actually ought to have had extra.
Williamson was making nice selections with the ball in his palms all evening lengthy. He was particularly efficient driving, scanning the ground, after which discovering the proper teammate to cross to. It’s too dangerous that a few of his nice dishes didn’t get scored on.
Then, from a scoring standpoint, Williamson was sometimes scary. He scored on 14-of-17 area objectives and went to the free throw line fifteen instances. That’s certainly one strategy to make dropping 37 factors look straightforward.
In extra time, Williamson was genuinely unstoppable. He fouled out Karl Anthony-Cities, Naz Reid, and Jaden McDaniels in consecutive vogue. It was simply humorous at that time to look at him toy with the Timberwolves’ frontcourt.