Alexander Shun | @alexpshun
Digital Content Manager | KFAN.com
Another night, another 40-point game for Minnesota Timberwolves forward Andrew Wiggins.
One night after dropping 41 points on the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers in a 116-108 loss, Wiggins followed up such a performance by scoring 40 points against the Denver Nuggets in a 112-99 win in the Timberwolves' final game before the All-Star break.
"For us, we have to continue to improve and we have to work, and there's a lot of work for us to do," Timberwolves Head Coach Tom Thibodeau said after his team's victory, speaking about going into the break with a victory. "I told [the players] that, looking back, I think we have improved, but to get to where we want to go we need more, and that's what we're going to be pushing towards."
Wiggins finished the night with 40 points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals, giving him 81 points in his past two games. Wednesday night's game was also Wiggins' last game before his 22nd birthday and he'll finish with the fourth-most points all-time for players under 22 years old, ahead of Kobe Bryant and behind only LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony; rather impressive company if I do say so myself.
To make Wiggins' night even more impressive, he also became just the fourth player in NBA history to record back-to-back 40+ point games joining the likes of James, Durant and Hall-of-Fame Guard Allen Iverson.
"I just let the game come to me," Wiggins said, talking about his 40-point outburst. "In the second half they switched up the coverage, blitzed me a little bit, but I just tried to make the easy pass and stay aggressive."
Wiggins was helped by a stellar performance from Karl-Anthony Towns who finished with 24 points, 19 rebounds and two assists while Shabazz Muhammad chipped in 15 points, three rebounds and two assists in just 16 minutes off the bench.
Minnesota led almost the entirety of the game and, despite holding just a six-point lead entering the final quarter, the Timberwolves played well, finished strong and came away with the win.
The Timberwolves are currently chasing the Nuggets for the eighth spot in the Western Conference and, with the win on Wednesday night, Minnesota sits just three-and-a-half games back of Denver and can, hopefully, return from the break with a little momentum.
"We wanted this game really badly because we're trying to put ourselves in a position to do something special this year," Wiggins said. "It was [a] huge [win]. That's what we're fighting for, we want to be [in the eighth spot in the West]."
Gary Harris led the Nuggets with a team-high 22 points while Nikola Jokic added 15 points, 14 rebounds, four assists and four blocked shots in a losing effort.
The Nuggets, playing without three key starters (Kenneth Faried, Emmanuel Mudiay and Danilo Gallinari), struggled to slow Wiggins while also failing to control the ball, turning the ball over 14 times compared to Minnesota's meager seven turnovers.
As previously noted the Timberwolves will now head to the All-Star break with a 22-35 record and still chasing the Nuggets for the eighth spot. However, as Thibodeau said, this team is improving and if they can build on this momentum when they return from the break, they could make a serious push to be playing playoff basketball in Minnesota come spring time.