NBA basketball comes to Hilton, plus Thib-bits

Timberwolves Forward-Center Karl-Anthony Towns smiles following a missed basket during the 1st half of the Minnesota vs Milwaukee Preseason game held in Hilton Coliseum Oct. 7, 2018. The Timberwolves were defeated 125-107.

Noah Rohlfing

For a single night, Hilton Coliseum became Target Center South.

The NBA came to Ames on Sunday, with the Minnesota Timberwolves hosting the Milwaukee Bucks. The Bucks won, 125-107, off the back of performances from Giannis Antetokounmpo and Christian Wood. The game itself was a typical preseason affair, with none of the starters from either team playing past the seven-minute mark of the fourth quarter. By then, the game was out of hand, with the Bucks pulling away with 3-point shooting and forcing Minnesota turnovers in bunches.

There was a large contingent of Timberwolves and Bucks fans in the audience, with a smattering of different NBA jerseys on display. The jerseys consisted of Jayson Tatum, Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan and more. Of course, with the crowd on hand, there were also a number of Cyclone jerseys and shirts on display.

The Cyclone men’s and women’s basketball teams were on hand for the spectacle, and sophomore guard Terrence Lewis got involved in a pre-game dance off with a fan at center court.

The floor may have not been Iowa State’s (it was an Iowa Wolves floor brought up from Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines), but Hilton Coliseum left its mark on the visiting players and coaches.

Before the game, Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau said the Iowa State campus was “beautiful,” and described Hilton as an arena “full of history,” after making a crack about looking for a statue of Fred Hoiberg when he arrived in Ames.

Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer was a fan of playing in a different location than his team is used to.

“You’re always looking for a little variety,” Budenholzer said. “There’s obviously been great college teams, great college atmosphere [here].”

The crowd was at once in awe of the action and subdued when the game became more preseason-esque, and the stars went to the bench.

Thibodeau cracked a smile when asked about the building and the crowd’s performance.

“It’s beautiful,” Thibodeau said. “For a building this old to look the way it does, it’s incredible. The crowd was terrific, terrific.”

The game captured the most fan attention during a third-quarter stretch in which the game briefly morphed into a one-on-one showdown with Giannis Antetokounmpo and Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns. Towns led all scorers with 33 points in 28 minutes.

The man known to some NBA fans as “The Greek Freak” was impressed with the atmosphere.

“They did a great job cheering for both teams and having fun,” Antetokounmpo said. “It was packed out there.”

Now, some Thib-bits from Sunday’s game:

— The most indelible first-half moment happened in the first quarter at the free-throw line. Karl-Anthony Towns stepped up to the stripe and, before his second free throw, a fan yelled out a question for the Timberwolves center.

“What’s your shoe size?” the fan asked.

After hitting the free throw, Towns yelled back “20!” before jogging back down the court.

— Even in a preseason game, Tom Thibodeau played his starters an eye-catching amount of time. Karl-Anthony Towns played 11 straight minutes to start the third quarter. The Wolves had four players with more than 24 minutes of game action entering the fourth quarter.

The Bucks had one.

— In the first quarter, two blowup Wolves mascots did a dance routine to “Total Eclipse of the Heart” by Bonnie Tyler.

— The fans at Hilton got restless at the beginning of the fourth quarter, chanting “We Want [Derrick] Rose” in unison three separate times. Rose, a veteran guard and former MVP with a history of injury issues, was inactive last night for rest.