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Wizards vs. Timberwolves final score: Washington runs out of gas in 135-130 overtime loss to Minnesota

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NBA: Washington Wizards at Minnesota Timberwolves Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

The modern NBA fan’s Guide to Respectable Tanking can be defined thusly:

  1. The team’s key players should play well and show up in big moments;
  2. The team should stay competitive throughout the course of the game;
  3. And at the end of the day, the team should lose as much as possible.

Suffice to say the #TeamTank fans will be happy with this one.

The Minnesota Timberwolves knocked off the Wizards 135-130 on Saturday despite Bradley Beal’s spectacular buzzer-beating 3-pointer that sent the game to overtime. Beal finished with 36 points, 10 rebounds and 9 assists, once again reminding Wizards’ fans of his admirable grit and incredible potential. At one point, Beal scored 16 points in a row from the end of the fourth quarter to the start of overtime — and at the end of the day, the Wizards still lost.

Karl-Anthony Towns finished with 40 points and 16 rebounds and simply eviscerated whomever Washington had in front of him at a given moment. Unfortunately, Towns walked off with a non-contact knee injury just before overtime and did not return — hopefully he’s okay. For the Wizards, Trevor Ariza finished with 27 points and Jabari Parker added 15 off the bench.

Both teams looked disjointed coming out of the gates, and the Wizards took advantage first. They quickly started running after every stop, pushing the ball down the floor against a lackadaisical Minnesota defense. Washington built an impressive 30-15 lead over the game’s first nine minutes, due to Bobby Portis’ 15 first-quarter points. The Wizards led 39-28 after the first period.

The Wizards’ transition excellence continued into the second quarter as the the revamped, Troy Brown Jr.-led bench unit held desperately to the team’s lead. The gap shrunk as small as three points at 52-49, but some strong first-half minutes from Jabari Parker kept Washington out in front.

Karl-Anthony Towns worked his magic in the first half to the tune of 26 points and 9 rebounds, nearly matching the 28 and 12 he posted in the entire game against Washington last time around. A late run gave the Wizards a 71-60 lead at half, but it felt tenuous because of the team’s unsustainably strong shooting and Towns’ strong showing.

Towns continued his run in the third, ending the period with 32 points and 14 rebounds despite the best efforts of the Wizards’ defense to double him at every opportunity. In the absence of Andrew Wiggins, KAT’s play opened up the rest of the floor for Minnesota’s Dario Saric and Derrick Rose, pulling the Timberwolves back level early in the fourth quarter.

A Towns 3-pointer gave the Timberwolves a 110-107 lead with six minutes to play — their first lead since just two minutes into the game. Washington locked down on defense over the final few minutes and clawed their way back. Then, trailing by three with just two seconds to play, Beal hit the tying shot that gave Washington a second chance at victory.

But in the extra period, the “TimberBulls” swept the Wizards out the door. Taj Gibson and Derrick Rose combined for most of Minnesota’s 14 points in OT, including a dagger jumper from Rose with under a minute remaining. With the loss, the Wizards fall to 27-39, now 4.5 games back of the East’s eighth seed and seventh in the lottery standings.

Takeaways

The Promise and Peril of Bobby Portis

Tonight, we saw both sides of The Bobby Portis Experience. Portis exploded in the first quarter for 15 early points... and yet finished the overtime affair with just 21, including more than a few forced attempts from the field. On the whole, Portis had a solid offensive game, but it’s difficult to ignore just how easily Towns threw Portis around on the defensive side of the ball. Towns finished with over 40 points, many of those coming at Portis’s expense. It got frustrating enough that at one point, Portis just sorta hug-tackled KAT.

Heartwarming, but maybe not the best basketball tactic. Given his skillset, Portis just makes more sense coming off the bench against less powerful opponents. Truth be told, he even had significant trouble holding up against Taj Gibson in overtime. He was not the whole problem tonight, and you can’t expect anyone to completely shut down Towns. But if Portis is going to stick around, let’s hope the Wizards find a starting center — whether it’s Thomas Bryant or otherwise — who can put Portis back on the bench where his shot creation is more valuable and his poor defense less costly.

Your Moment of Zen

Behold, a magical moment once only theorized of in whispers: The Double-Bank.


Next Up: The Wizards (27-39) will come home to play the Sacramento Kings (33-32) on Monday night at 7 pm Eastern Time.