Timberwolves coach Chris Finch promised a “whole new reality” for his players coming out of the all-star break.
If that reality resembles anything what Minnesota put on the floor Thursday night — Wolves fans will be pleasantly surprised.
The Timberwolves stormed out of the all-star break, drubbing the Pelicans 135-105 in New Orleans to both snap Minnesota’s nine-game losing streak and give Chris Finch his first NBA head coaching victory.
The best thing about the performance was there was no one best thing.
Anthony Edwards was aggressive and, thus, more efficient. He got to the rim at will, with only four of his 20 attempts coming from beyond the arc. Jake Layman continued to play well in the starting lineup, hitting three triples.
Jaylen Nowell impersonated an elite NBA scorer, finishing with 28 points on 11 for 13 shooting. Jaden McDaniels reclaimed his previously impressive form, going 8 for 9 from the field — including 4 for 5 from deep — on his way to 20 points and three blocked shots.
The Wolves shot 54 percent from the field and 48 percent from three. The offensive performance was especially impressive considering Minnesota had six points through the first six minutes of the game.
But the offense may have been overshadowed by the defensive excellence. Yes, defensive excellence.
The Wolves rotated and contested shots — two things they hadn’t done much of through the first half of the season.
It should be noted one of Minnesota’s other top performances of the season came in a win over New Orleans. Perhaps the Wolves simply have the Pelicans’ number. And it is just one game.
But one game — one enjoyable performance — means a lot to a fan base starved of them this season. And that it’s the start of a fresh half of a season may potentially signify new life to a team that needed it.
The young Wolves looked recharged and rejuvenated Thursday after they appeared to be dragging themselves to the finish line prior to the all-star break.
A new reality, indeed.