For the second time this season, New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis was just too much for the Minnesota Timberwolves to handle. Buoyed by Davis’ game-high 42 points and 13 rebounds, the Pelicans handed Minnesota a 122-106 loss Friday night at the Target Center. With the loss, Minnesota (20-34) has lost five of its last six games and has dropped one game below New Orleans into 13th place in the Western Conference.
For Timberwolves head coach Tom Thibodeau, it was just more of the same problems. The 122 points marked the fourth time in six games his team has failed to keep its opponent under 115 points.
“The games reveal exactly where we are,” Thibodeau said. “It was an offensive game and then we stopped scoring when Karl went to the bench.”
Karl-Anthony Towns picked up his fourth foul midway through the third quarter and had to take a seat for the remainder of the period while his team struggled to keep up the pace with New Orleans.
“I think we were down two with about five minutes left in the third and then the game got away from us there,” Thibodeau added.
The Pelicans extended their lead to 98-89 after the quarter. The 37 points scored by the Pelicans were the most allowed by Minnesota in a third quarter this season. New Orleans did not let up in the final frame, as they outscored the Wolves 24-17 to cruise to victory.
Despite the trailing by as many as 21 points in the fourth quarter, Minnesota actually held a 15-point lead in the first quarter, but saw it completely slip away by the middle of the second quarter.
“We didn’t protect the lead,” Towns said. “We didn’t play with the same urgency and it cost us.”
Towns scored 19 of his team-high 36 points in the first quarter. His effort propelled Minnesota to its first 40-point first quarter of the season and a 40-28 lead after the first 12 minutes of play.
Andrew Wiggins added 29 points on 11-of-17 shooting for the Wolves, while Ricky Rubio was the only other scorer in double figures with 15 points and a team-high 12 assists.
The Pelicans were lifted by — aside from Davis — a strong third quarter from its starting backcourt of Jrue Holiday and Buddy Hield. Hield played just 6:37 in the first half, but scored 11 of his 17 points in the third quarter. Holiday also overcame a slow start and finished with 25 points, 12 assists and five steals.
Perhaps the most telling statistic in the game was New Orleans’ 60 percent shooting from the field. It was just the seventh time it has shot over 50 percent this season and was the highest percentage allowed by Minnesota this season. The previous high was 58.2 percent by the Washington Wizards on Jan. 6.
After the game, Thibodeau preached the need to be consistent on the defensive effort after his team allowed another high-scoring night to an opponent. Especially after it appeared they were showing improvement on that end of the floor earlier this month.
“You have to do it every day, you have to do it every night,” he said. “Right now, we’re down a guy, so you can never underestimate how hard you have to play on every possession.”
“We’re short-handed and if you don’t play with intensity, you won’t win,” Thibodeau continued. “If you do, you can beat anybody. It’s that simple.”
Davis’ monster effort helped New Orleans overcome the absence of Tyreke Evans, Terrence Jones and E’Twaun Moore.
“He’s an All-Star,” Rubio said. “Guys are going to have big nights. What we are trying to do is win games and right now we’re not doing it.”
Here is Thibodeau’s press conference from the Fox Sports North feed:
Towns talked about the team’s defense and how it has gotten worse during the last month.
Rubio offered praise for the All-Star Davis and talked about allowing the Pelicans to shoot 60 percent from the field.
Wiggins talked about how frustrating it can be having the same problem over and over again in losses.