Wolves Analyst: Nobody Lost This Game; Minnesota Won It

Minnesota is in the playoffs for the first time since 2004 but will struggle against Houston for one main reason, Alan Horton said: math

After Hours With Amy Lawrence
April 12, 2018 - 9:03 am

USA Today Images


The Minnesota Timberwolves outlasted the Denver Nuggets, 112-106, in overtime Wednesday, to reach the NBA playoffs for the first time since 2003-04 – when Kevin Garnett was MVP.

It was a much-needed win for the Timberwolves – and their fans. 

“The fan base has been beaten down over the years,” Timberwolves radio voice Alan Horton said on After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “Thirteen straight years of missing the playoffs has taken its toll. The fan base has built its way back up this season. They’re starting to get behind this team.”

Jimmy Butler scored a team-high 31 points Wednesday, while Karl-Anthony Towns had 26 points and 14 rebounds.

“Jimmy Butler has made a huge impact,” Horton said. “I think everyone realizes what kind of alpha dog he is, whether he’s leading you on the court offensively and defensively or off the court in the locker room with how they're doing things, how they approach things. So it’s taken them a little while to build, but I have never seen anything like the atmosphere in the building tonight where the fans had the building sold out, they were standing on their feet from the opening tip, and they were on their feet cheering every single possession like it mattered – and it did. Every possession mattered tonight. I thought it was a great night for basketball.”

The game was tied at 101 at the end of regulation, with Minnesota outscoring Denver 11-5 in the extra frame. Four starters on each team played 42+ minutes.

“These guys were exhausted, throwing haymakers at each other for the better part of 45 minutes,” Horton said. “The Nuggets were on the floor, they congratulated the Wolves, and it was awesome to see, especially in this day and age with all the political in-fighting and everything in society that seems to be going wrong. It was just cool to see the Nuggets (do that). Nobody lost this game. The Timberwolves won this game. It was that good. I thought it was a real class act by Mike Malone and the Nuggets and their fans and their players to really congratulate everybody. It’s a tough loss for them, but they showed a lot of class, I thought, in the way they handled themselves after the game.”

Minnesota’s reward for winning Wednesday? A first-round playoff series with Houston (65-17), which finished with the best record in the NBA.

How do the T-Wolves match up in this one?

“Not well,” Horton said. “Not well at all. They’ve struggled this season. Not a win against Houston: 0-4. It’s a tough matchup because of a pesky subject that I used to struggle in: math. Houston loves the three-ball, and the Timberwolves only average eight made threes a game – and that’s last in the NBA. The Rockets have consistently outscored the Wolves by five, six, seven, eight made threes a game. That’s too tough to make up. You can’t make that up in shooting 2s better or in turning the ball over (less) or (with) offensive rebounds or free throws. It’s just too much. Even if you have the edge in all those other areas, you can’t make up for the gap in three-point shooting. It’s been a bad matchup for the Wolves, but they’ll worry about that this weekend. The first step was getting into the postseason.”

Game 1 is in Houston this Sunday. Tip-off is at 9 p.m. ET.