It's Time For Timberwolves To Cash In What They've Learn From Jimmy Butler
Minnesota Timberwolves Power Past Kings 118-100
Karl-Anthony Towns of the Minnesota Timberwolves will see more double teams on offense with Jimmy Butler sidelined up to six weeks. He had... Publicity Agents photo art by T. Ray Harvey. Feb. 26, 2018.
THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Sacramento, Calif. —The Minnesota Timberwolves are basically right back where they started before Jimmy Butler was traded to the team on June 22, 2017, from the Chicago Bulls. But things are slightly different.
The seventh-year, four-time All-Star underwent successful meniscectomy surgery on his right knee Feb. 25, which will put him on the shelf for about four to six weeks. He sustained the injury on Feb. 23 in the game played against the Houston Rockets.
It was obvious that Butler was the best player for the Timberwolves averaging 22.2 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 5.0 assists per game. And still, other teams had trouble doubling down on him because Karl-Anthony Towns and Wiggins cannot be left alone.
He was the floor and locker room leader as well as the man who was teaching the young Timberwolves how to win, how to make the playoffs, something the organization has not done in 13 seasons but are in reach of ending the drought.
By playing with Butler for most of the season, his absence is a good place to start to see what they learned from him until he returns to action, possibly by the time the playoff begin. If the Timberwolves falter, it will show that they didn’t benefit at all.
Minnesota head coach Tom Thibodeau is one person who is eager to see what his team has garnished from Butler. In no disrespect to what it was like before April 20, 2016, the Timberwolves were operating as individualists when he arrived.
“Just the understanding the importance of how hard to play on every possession and play unselfishly,” Thibodeau said of what he thinks the team has learned from Butler. “We’re not going to replace Jimmy individually of the things that he brings to the team. But we can do it collectively. Everyone is capable of playing great defense, everyone is capable of sharing the ball, and getting more rebounds.”
In their second game without Butler, the Timberwolves rolled over the Sacramento Kings 118-100 at Golden 1 Center. Towns had 26 points, 17 rebounds, four assists, two steals, and two blocked shots for Minnesota (38-26), who won their second straight game, a feat they have not done in about a month.
Six Minnesota players scored in double figures. Wiggins had 22 points, two assists, one steal, and one blocked shot while Jeff Teague contributed 20 points, seven assists, four rebounds, and three steals. Taj Gibson scored 15 points, Nemanja Bjelica dropped in 12 points, and Gorgui Dieng added 10 points off the bench.
Offense has not been a problem for the Timberwolves. But it there is anything they have learned from Butler that they must do from here to the end of the season, the defense is at the top of the priority list.
“When Jimmy was around we were playing great defense. That’s why we're in this position now,” Towns said. “So we gotta keep it going regardless if Jimmy is here or not. We have to play defense as a team and make those adjustments when we need to.”
Minnesota made 39 of 75 shots from the field at 52 percent and pulled down 42 rebounds to the Kings’ 31. The Timberwolves committed 14 fouls for the night while the Kings loaded up 23 fouls, which put the Timberwolves on the line 36 times.
Minnesota also handled the ball pretty well, turning the ball over 11 times. In addition, the Timberwolves held the Kings to 17 points in the third quarter, which was purely about defense. Sacramento, the world knows, is no top-flight anything yet, but if the Timberwolves can play that way without Butler they will do fine.
“It’s motivation and determination,” said Gibson, who made 6 of 7 shots from the floor. “We understand that Wig (Wiggins) and Kat (Towns), we’re going to lean on them more for offense. We understand that we have a tough road ahead of us. Without Jimmy, we have to tighten up a lot more.”
Minnesota made all 14 of their free-throw attempts in the first half. Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, and Jeff Teague made four each. Gorgui Dieng added two from the charity stripe in the first 28 minutes. Minnesota ended up making a total of 33 of 36 free throws.
What Is Meniscectomy Surgery?
Arthroscopic meniscectomy is an outpatient minimally invasive surgical procedure used to treat a torn meniscus cartilage in the knee. The meniscus is often torn as a result of sport-related injury in athletic individuals. Only the torn segment of the meniscus is removed. Some patients require assistance from physical therapists postoperatively. The average time of return to all activities is 4-6 weeks after the surgery.
— Department of Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine, University of Washington
Skal Labissiere had 20 points, four rebounds, and one steal in the 118-100 loss to the Timberwolves. Willie Cauley-Stein had 17 points, five rebounds, and three assists. He also fouled out of the game. Buddy Hield had 16 points, five rebounds, and three assists for the Kings (18-42).
Garrett Temple did not play against the Minnesota Timberwolves after experiencing lower back stiffness following warmups.
Bruno Caboclo entered the game at the 2:30 mark of the first quarter. The 6-foot-9 forward who was traded from Toronto to Sacramento on Feb. 8, scored four points, made 2 of 7 shots from the field, grabbed three rebounds, and collected a steal in 18 minutes.
By T. Ray Harvey | PA Public Information Officer and Photographic Artist
Twitter: Tony Ray Harvey @PublicityAgents
T. Ray (Antonio) Harvey is a Public Information Officer and Photographic Artist for Publicity Agents. Harvey is also the author of The HOMICIDAL HANDYMAN OF OAK PARK: MORRIS SOLOMON JR.