MINNEAPOLIS – Three NBA teams have not lost this season when scoring 100 or more points.
The good news: The Timberwolves are one of them.
The bad news: Only one team, the Pacers, has reached the century mark fewer times than the Timberwolves.
This season, Minnesota is 8-0 when it scores 100-plus points. That’s good for nearly half of the team’s 17 wins, in fact, and it’s evidence that on those nights when the offense is clicking, things work out. The problem, though, is that those nights are rare and all too often against the league’s worst defenses.
The Timberwolves have done it twice against Denver, once each against Phoenix, Dallas, New Orleans, Atlanta, Brooklyn and Philadelphia. Of those teams, only Atlanta, Brooklyn and Denver have winning records, and only Atlanta and Brooklyn are in the top half of the league in terms of scoring defense.
The other two teams to go undefeated when scoring 100-plus points are the Bulls (they’re 10-0 in such games, 25-16 on the season and have the third-best scoring defense) and the Grizzlies (12-0, 27-14, second-best scoring defense). Oh, and the Pacers, with the next-fewest losses when scoring 100-plus – they’re 6-1 – have the league’s best scoring defense, allowing just 89.3 points per game. The Timberwolves’ scoring defense, though 10th-best in the NBA, has been faltering, and in games since Christmas, Minnesota is 20th in scoring defense, giving up an average of 99.6 points.
The teams who have scored more than 100 points 20 or more times this season are the Hawks, Mavericks, Rockets, Clippers, Lakers, Heat, Knicks, Thunder and Spurs. Obviously, every legitimate contender is on that list, but it’s not exclusive to them. The 17-25 Lakers are 16-13 in such games, but when your defense gives up an average of 101.5 points per game, scoring prodigiously isn’t necessarily going to solve things. Same goes for the 18-24 Mavericks, the only other losing team on that list, who give up 102.9 points per game.
The best 100-plus-point records belong to the Thunder, Spurs, Heat and Clippers who, though they have losses, have proven they can score big any night and most likely win. Their records in such games: 29-2 for Oklahoma City, 25-3 for San Antonio, 21-2 for Miami and 22-4 for Los Angeles.
It could be worse, though. At least the Timberwolves are winning on those nights when everything lines up and the offense works. The Bobcats, Cavaliers, Hornets and Raptors have records of .500 or below when scoring 100-plus points, and the Timberwolves, no matter their struggles, haven’t reached that level of incompetence just yet.