The Minnesota Timberwolves lost to the Washington Wizards 104-98 Wednesday night. Ricky Rubio led the team with 22 points on 6-14 shooting and 2-3 from three.
“Ricky had to shoot the ball — they were going under [screens],” said interim head coach Sam Mitchell after the game. “He’s gotta make some shots early, and when he does that, it just opens things up.”
Zach LaVine had 21 points, Andrew Wiggins had 17 and Karl-Anthony Towns recorded his rookie-leading 35th double-double with 14 points and 15 rebounds.
All four started the game and played more than 35 minutes.
Bench play was the difference, with Bradley Beal’s 26 points and Minneapolis native Alan Anderson’s 18 leading the way for Washington. All five Wizards bench players had a positive plus-minus; all five Wolves bench players were in the negative.
“Look who they come off the bench with: Nene, Bradley Beal, Ramon Sessions, Alan Anderson. [Jared] Dudley,” said Mitchell. “We’re playing a bunch of young guys.”
Mitchell said that the Wizards, who at 30-30 ended the night as the ninth seed in the Eastern Conference, could be a threat in the playoffs.
“If Nene decides to play, they got a chance,” he said. “Because John Wall is a one-man fast break. Bradley Beal … the thing that makes them tough, bringing Bradley Beal and Alan Anderson and Dudley, and those guys off the bench, there’s no scoring dropoff when they go to their bench.”
Minnesota is now 19-42 and 13th in the West.
[Update 8:15 am: added postgame video]
After the game Smith said that he’s still learning everybody’s game and how the Wolves play, and that he’s going to be a physical presence on this team as long as he’s in Minnesota.
Rubio on his team-leading 22-point night: “They were letting me shoot the ball, so I was taking those shots and they were going in.”
Towns finished with a double-double, but Nene was a handful for him at times. “He was just trying to get physical with me,” he said. “I was glad I was able to get some of my teammates open and use his aggressiveness to his disadvantage.”
And finally, LaVine said it could be tough to match up with Washington’s bench at times.