Kyle Lowry didn’t even play 29 minutes last night when his Raptors hosted the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Air Canada Centre. In that brief time, he only attempted 18 shots. But the slimmer point guard made them count, connecting on 13 of those 18 attempts and scoring a preseason Raptors record, 40 points.
You could blame the defense, though, and you wouldn’t be wrong. Look at Andrew Wiggins and Tyus Jones bungle this side pick and give Lowry an easy path for the layup.
That’s terrible communication. Kevin Garnett and Sam Mitchell hopefully rip them both when they looked at the tape. But Lowry was snaking through the defense even when Minnesota was trying to stay in front of him.
Here’s Tyus Jones — fresh off getting abused by Russell Westbrook — looking like he’s stuck in cement as Lowry skips to his right and takes it all the way to the cup.
But the ‘Wolves just didn’t learn. Sure, going under the screen is one way to prevent those dribble drives, but as Lorenzo Brown learned in the first half, and was reiterated here on Lowry’s final three points of the game, going under also gives Lowry an open look from beyond the arc, where he was 6-of-9 on the night.
This isn’t new for the Timberwolves. They gave up the most points per possession last season and — as NBA.com’s John Schuhmann pointed out this morning — opponents recorded the highest effective field goal against them last season since 1997. Opponents shot the highest field-goal percentage in the restricted area against them, too, exposing their dearth of rim protection. The same thing happened last night as Lowry scooted to the rim to score seemingly at will.
Sam Mitchell and Kevin Garnett have a tall order in front of them to solidify such a porous group, but the addition of Karl Anthony-Towns should at least help in that last category: rim protection. But for one night, at least, his presence didn’t mean a thing to the newly-svelte point guard north of the border.