Ricky and Juancho take the Spanish duel against Willy
The Timberwolves of Ricky Rubio Finally broke their losing streak against the New Orleans Pelicans with a convincing 105-135 win In which they stood out in the Minnesotans Jaylen Nowell, with 28 points, and the rookie Anthony Edwards, with 27, compared to the 24 points that the star of the New Orleans, Zion Williamson achieved.
For the first time in years, three Timberwolves players finished the game with more than 20 points, and another three with more than 10. In addition to Nowell and Edwards, Jaden McDaniels accumulated 20 points. Meanwhile, Karl-Anthony Towns added 16 points, 7 rebounds and 1 assist.
For its part, Rubio scored 6 points, 1 rebound and 8 assists while your teammate, Juancho Hernangómez, who played 5.48 minutes, signed up 5 points (including a triple) and 1 rebound. His brother, Willy Hernagómez, with 6.07 minutes of play, did 2 points, 1 rebound and 1 assist.
The game between the Pelicans and the Timberwolves had several interesting potential matchups. One was the Hernangómez brothers, with Willy on the New Orleans team and Juancho on the Minneapolis team. The Madrilenians were able to share the track although it was only at the end when the match was already decided.
Another was among the coaches. Chris Finch, the Wolves' new coach, who had not won a game since taking the bench on February 21, was an associate coach of the Pelicans from 2017 to 2020. And, after nine consecutive losses to the team's credit, Finch he desperately needed a victory. Meanwhile, this is Stan Van Gundy's first year at the helm of New Orleans. And his team, which is having an uneven season, is one spot away from making the play-off repechage, so they need to improve their numbers. Finch emerged victorious, which gives his team some breathing space and hope.
And then there was the showdown between Zion Williamson and Anthony Edwards. Williamson, in the Pelicans, was number 1 in the 2019 draft and this year he participated in the All-Stars, to become the fourth youngest player in the all-star game, after Magic Johnson, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. Edwards was No. 1 in the 2020 draft. Here the competition was tighter. Edwards had 3 more points than Zion, but New Orleans had 5 rebounds to 4 of Minneapolis.
The game started badly for the Wolves. In five minutes after the opening whistle, the Pelicans opened a gap of 7 points, 13-6, with a Williamson adding 9 of his team's points and imposing his humanity on the Wolves' paint. Minnesotans were thick in attack and, once again, ineffective in defense. The Pelicans didn't even need Williamson on the court to punish with a 7-0 run and increase the gap to 20-6 midway through the first quarter.
Only a few combinations of Rubio with Karl-Anthony Towns (KAT) and Edwards allowed the Wolves to score points. Luckily for the Timberwolves, the Pelicans slowed down a bit and the Spanish guard's team cut the difference to 7 points, 34-27, at the end of the first 12 minutes of the game.
But in the second quarter, the Timberwolves bench decided to get noticed. With Jarred Vanderbilt, KAT and Rubio off the court, Naz Reid, Jaylen Nowell and Jaden McDaniels started to perform better than the Pelicans bench.
With 8 minutes remaining, the Wolves closed the gap to just 4 points, 45-41. And after 5 straight Reid points, the Pelicans' lead dissipated. When Williamson returned to the court with 4.37 to go by halftime, the Wolves were ahead 53-55 after a strong assist from Rubio, who had also just returned to the court, to Edwards.
Edwards finally started to work - he had made only one basket in the first quarter - and the Wolves opened a gap in their favor on the scoreboard thanks to the 40 points that the team made in the second quarter against the 26 of the Pelicans. When the break came, the Wolves had completely turned the game around. They lost 16 points and the scoreboard looked 60-67 for Minnesotans.
The Pelicans were unable to recover. Van Gundy, who has insisted since the beginning of the season that his men have to pay more attention to defense, saw the effectiveness of the Wolves' shots skyrocket. In the third quarter, Minnesotans accumulated 61.5% accuracy from beyond the three-point line, while New Orleans stayed at 25%. In the paint, Williamson dried up and scored just 4 points in the third quarter, a period that ended 82-105 in favor of Minnesotans. With those numbers, the fourth quarter was a walk for the Wolves, who have finally broken their losing streak.