Kyle Anderson continues to do it all for the Timberwolves
Anderson is ranked sixth among all NBA players in estimated defensive plus-minus.
ST. PAUL -- The Minnesota Timberwolves’ starters exited with 1 minute, 48 seconds remaining, leading by 23 in its blowout victory over Atlanta. Well, almost all the starters.
Veteran forward Kyle Anderson remained. Timberwolves coach Chris Finch allowed Anderson to stay on the floor in order to grab the final rebound he needed to notch a triple-double. Anderson grabbed that board with 34 seconds to play to accomplish the feat, sending the team into a state of euphoria.
“They be fired up, but they be stealing rebounds from me. You gotta watch them, you gotta watch those guys,” Anderson joked in his postgame, on-court interview. “Nah, that was super cool. Always a dream to play in the NBA. Always special for me.”
Finch rarely allows players to “achievement chase”. He’s pulled the likes of Anthony Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns in the past when they were a bucket or two away from major scoring plateaus.
“I think it’s something everybody wanted for him,” Finch told reporters after the game. “We’re happy for him. We left him in there so he could get it and his teammates love Kyle, and we do, too.”
That’s because of the impact Anderson has on Minnesota. He’s an asset on the defensive end – ranked sixth among all NBA players in estimated defensive plus-minus by Dunks & Threes. He promotes ball movement with his passes, gets rebounds and is a calming presence on the court.
“This is who he’s been for us. He doesn’t get a triple-double every night, but he’s just so important for everything we do, whether it be rebounding, creating or scoring,” Finch said. “He’s scored the ball for us, has shot the ball really well for us this year, and then defensively, he’s so versatile.”
And clutch. Anderson’s end-of-game heroics have been well-documented, but he also delivered plays when Minnesota needed them most Monday. That may sound silly in a 21-point victory, but Atlanta had seized momentum late in the third frame, utilizing an 8-0 run to trim a 26-point deficit to 18.
The Wolves have squandered so many big leads this season, and this looked like a candidate to add to the list. But no matter, Anderson took the reins, driving to the bucket for an and-1 that pushed Minnesota’s advantage back to 21.
Anderson tallied 12 points, three rebounds and two assists in that third frame, then tacked on three rebounds, three assists and two blocked shots in seven minutes of action in the fourth. He is the Timberwolves’ ultimate door shutter.
“When they were making their little fight back, we made just enough plays offensively to keep them at arm’s length, and I think Kyle was involved in the majority of those plays – whether it was assisting, creating the actions that created the basket or in fact scoring himself,” Finch said.
Anderson became the first Timberwolves’ player since the 2013-14 season to log multiple triple-doubles in a season.
“That’s always been my game,” he said. “I’ve never been a guy to play for stats, but I like to rebound the ball and get my guys involved and score when I have to. It’s just a part of my game.”
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