Timberwolves whip Lakers by 22, but still fire coach Thibodeau
LOS ANGELES, USA – Karl-Anthony Towns unloaded 28 points, 18 rebounds and 4 blocked shots as the Minnesota Timberwolves ripped the Los Angeles Lakers, 108-86, in the NBA on Sunday, January 6 (Monday, January 7, Manila time).
The 22-point whipping of the depleted Lakers, though, wasn't enough to save Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau's job.
In an unexpected development, reports said that Minnesota fired head coach Tom Thibodeau just minutes after the game.
Although Thibodeau had been on thin ice following the Timberwolves' disappointing start to the season, the timing of his sacking came as a surprise. Reports said Thibodeau got a call immediately after the team's impressive win over the Lakers.
Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic said the decision came after a long evaluation process since the fiasco involving former Timberwolves star Jimmy Butler, who wound up getting traded to the Philadelphia 76ers.
Sources tell @TheAthleticMIN that wolves evaluated Thibs and team over the last period post Jimmy Butler trade and just decided that something needed to change. The sense of urgency is through roof. Thibs informed right after game
Sources tell @TheAthleticMIN that wolves evaluated Thibs and team over the last period post Jimmy Butler trade and just decided that something needed to change. The sense of urgency is through roof. Thibs informed right after game— Jon Krawczynski (@JonKrawczynski) January 7, 2019
In the win over the Lakers, the Timberwolves seized control immediately and led by 16 points after the 1st quarter.
They led by as many as 28, with Andrew Wiggins chipping in 28 points and 5 rebounds for a Minnesota team that had their own injury worries with Robert Covington and Derrick Rose both sidelined.
In his second game back from injury, Jeff Teague finished with a 15-point, 11-assist double-double and Taj Gibson added 12 points and 11 rebounds for the Timberwolves, who climbed to 19-21.
A shorthanded Lakers side, meanwhile, had their own issues to resolve as coach Luke Walton bemoaned a lack of passion from his players after the rout.
The three-time NBA champion is due to be reevaluated on Friday, and the Lakers were also again without injured Kyle Kuzma and Rajon Rondo.
With 3 key contributors absent, Walton said, he wanted to see more intensity from the players who were on the court.
"We need more passion, we need more fight," Walton said. "That's not scoring more, that's more diving for loose balls, communicating loudly.
"It's hard to win in this league when you're healthy, so you've got to give double that effort when guys are down."
Only 4 Lakers players hit double digits, reserve Lance Stephenson leading the charge with 14.
Brandon Ingram added 13 points but connected on just 5-of-16 shots from the field.
"I think offensively our guys were trying to play the right way, we just weren't making shots," Walton said of a 1st quarter in which the Timberwolves outscored Los Angeles, 35-19.
"But defensively it's unacceptable that we let (them score) that many points. That's the second game in a row a team has come in the 1st quarter and just scored at will on us." – With a report from Agence France-Presse