The Minnesota Timberwolves looked like they were going to cruise to a blowout victory in the first half of Game 3. They had built a 26-point lead with 10:28 left in the second quarter, and were firing on all cylinders. Then, the Memphis Grizzlies decided to show a lot of spirit and went on their own 23-4 run to close out the half with only a 51-44 deficit.
When the halftime whistle rang, it felt like one of those “here we go again” moments, where we’d see the Grizzlies overcome adversity and take control of a game.
Well, the Timberwolves had their own counterpunch ready in the third quarter, where they again managed to run up the score to take a commanding lead. With 1:05 left in the third quarter, they were up 83-62, and looked like they would keep home court advantage.
Then, almost inexplicably, everything fell apart. The rest of the game felt like Groundhog Day, as the Grizzlies again turned on the jets to come back. The difference was that this time, Minnesota didn’t have it in them to hold off the charge.
Over the last 13:05 of the game, Memphis outscored Minnesota 42-12, sending their opponents along with the fans into a state of shellshock. Once the Grizzlies tied the game at 83-83, it was pretty much over.
A key adjustment that Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins made was having Brandon Clarke come in as a starter in the second half. Clarke made the gamble paid off in spades.
Ja Morant struggled with his shot, making only 5 of 18, but he still made a huge impact. He finished with a triple-double of 16 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists, a steal, and three blocks.
Desmond Bane was the leading scorer for Memphis, and he was hot from beyond the arc, making 7 of 15 threes on the way to 26 points, six rebounds, a steal and a block. His three-pointer off a Morant assist was what tied the game at 83 and set the tone for the eventual 104-95 victory.
Karl-Anthony Towns found himself saddled with foul trouble again, finishing with eight points and five rebounds. While he did have five blocks, the low scoring output is not enough for a franchise centerpiece in the playoffs.
It didn’t help that Anthony Edwards took a hit to the leg, but he did end up finishing the game playing 40 minutes. He had 19 points and seven rebounds, but also found himself on the wrong end of a block from Morant.
D’Angelo Russell led the Timberwolves in scoring with 22 points, five rebounds, and eight assists, but he shot 9 of 21 overall.
Game 3 showed the gulf in depth and belief between the Timberwolves and Grizzlies. After their surprise Game 1 loss, the Grizzlies followed up with a huge blowout win, and then simply refused to go away this time around. That’s going to be a huge confidence booster, and it also gives them back the homeport advantage.
Minnesota are going to need to watch a lot of tape, because they may not even get a chance to build a huge lead in Game 4. It’s tough when you face an opponent that believes in every single player on their roster.