Ricky leads, Edwards explodes and Wolves survive Lillard

The Spanish point guard shot badly, but finished with 15 + 5 + 7. Anthony Edwards, with 34 points, was the best. Lillard went to 38, but couldn't beat the Timberwolves.


The Timberwolves have little or no play. A high round in the draft, the desperate attempt not to be the worst team in the NBA (since they occupy right now) and a look at a future they have been watching from afar since, in 2004, they stepped into the West finals with Star Kevin Garnett. Since then, they have only returned to the playoffs once, in 2017-18, and the word reconstruction, which began in 2007 with the power forward's departure, almost eternally accompanies (or so it seems) a franchise that is not able to take steps in the right direction, either with victories or with light wickers that invite optimism. There is none of that in Minnesota, a basketball orphan city since Garnett set course for the Celtics (and glory), which is not able to connect with some players who now watch only on television (the coronavirus and its things) and who he does not see anywhere a solid project that can really invite a slight optimism. All are penalties for the worst team in the NBA, the only one that has not reached 10 victories (it has nine, one less than the Pistons, the worst in the East) and, along with the Rockets, the only one in the West that is out of the fierce fight for the playoffs. Of course, from time to time a joy can be given, as the Blazers have discovered well.

The team led by Damian Lillard has been shipwrecked in a way that is as unexpected as it is deserved in Minneapolis. He has done it because of relaxation, mistakes at key moments and, above all, because the Timberwolves have been better. In one of those games in which it seems that there is something to be scratched, the team that Ryan Saunders no longer manages (since before the All Star), and Chris Finch yes, has set a great performance, sustained by the rebounding power, the collective contribution (up to six players exceeded ten points) and, of course, the exhibition of an Anthony Edwards that is showing why he was chosen at number 1 in the draft. The rookie is averaging more than 15 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists this season and there are those who say that it will be difficult to win the Rookie of the Year (the hype for LaMelo Ball and his Hornets is extremely high), but he showed against the Blazers What reasons he has for this: 34 points with a spectacular shooting series (12 of 24 in field goals, including 6 of 14 in triples and 4 of 4 in free throws) and an almost unlimited amount of offensive resources, in addition to 4 rebounds , 2 assists and 1 steal, for only 2 losses. A performance that rounded off with 13 points in the fourth quarter that ensured a victory that was looser than the score shows.

The scoreboard changed leader up to five times and there were up to eight draws, but the final was dominated by Wolves who survived the scoring bleed of the last period (38-40 of partial) and prevailed, with an unknown capacity to close the match until then. The locals started only four up in the last 12 minutes, but five points in a row from Jaylen Nowell gave an advantage that they would maintain and manage during the rest of the duel, there are many failures of Terry Stotts' team in the three-point shot that they launched at the end, in a desperate attempt to scratch a victory that was not such. Ricky Rubio scored up to 8 points in this period, all from the personal to close a duel in which Damian Lillard again exhibited: 38 points, 14 of them in the fourth quarter, 12 of 21 in field goals, 6 of 13 in triples and 8 of 9 from the personnel line, with 7 rebounds and 4 assists. The point guard, he has already shown, moves on another level, and is already close to the 30 average points he reached last year while he is ignored for an MVP who, presumably, will have other suitors, but which he could well choose , by numbers and talent, the Oregon point guard.

Of the rest, little more. The bump in the road is small for the Blazers, who have won enough to allow themselves these kinds of losses, which almost always come in the regular season. Terry Stotts' men are 22-16 with ignominious defensive numbers and some lousy overall statistics, but led by Lillard they scratch victories and are in sixth place in the ultra-competitive Western Conference, with a 1.5-game margin over seventh and eighth. (Much can not relax), who will play the play-in. Gary Trent Jr. added 21 points, while Carmelo Anthony, in a great moment of form (eleventh in the table of leading scorers since the other day, when he overtook Hakemm Olajuwon), went to 16. This time Enes Kanter was not a differentiating element (11 rebounds, but only 4 points), partly due to the defense of Karl-Anthony Towns, who added 7 losses and did not have spectacular numbers (13 + 8 + 8), but played 40 minutes and was the spiritual support and morale of their own. The Wolves are a disaster, but they have given each other good cheer. That it never hurts.

Photos from as.com
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