For the Suns: No Bledsoe, on the second night of a b2b, on the road. Seems like the perfect storm for MN to get over .500, right? RIGHT?????— Tim Faklis (@timfaklis) January 8, 2014
In broken record fashion, the Timberwolves scrambled late in a close game, made some bad plays, and lost another heartbreaker tonight at the Target Center.
The game opened with a pair of runs for each team, starting with Minnesota's 9-0 run to open the game, 7 of those points coming from Kevin Martin. The Suns quickly countered with a 10-1 run of their own, forcing a back-and-forth matchup for the remainder of the quarter.
The quarter featured Chase Budinger's season debut, as well as Rick Adelman's debut in the technical foul statistical column.
Kevin Love followed suit in the second quarter with a technical of his own, in a quarter where the boos poured in at the Target Center. The referees were taking full advantage of their whistles, with Love getting 3 of his 4 fouls in the 2nd.
The game remained close, with Minnesota only trailing 53-47, despite Love and Pekovic combining for 8 points on just 3-20 shooting in the half.
The game remained close in the second half as well, with the Wolves showing signs of waking up. Corey Brewer and Nikola Pekovic were among the group that started hitting their shots, giving the Wolves a 30-19 advantage in the third quarter.
The fourth quarter came down to the wire. The Wolves had a 6 point lead with 1:51 to go in the game. Goran Dragic, who killed Minnesota all night, cut that lead to two almost instantly. A couple bad plays gave the Suns an opportunity to win it late. They ultimately grabbed 104-103 lead on a very well-defended shot by Gerald Green with 3.9 seconds remaining. A failed shot attempt at the rim by Kevin Martin at the buzzer ended it.
As it has been mentioned on several occasions, the Wolves came into the game 0-9 in games decided by 4 points of less. It looked like they were going to break that trend tonight, but they couldn't get it done. Again.
Rick Adelman was noticeably upset, and didn't say much. Still, he did offer his thoughts following the game.
"I don't know how many ways I can say it," he said. "You've got to defend down the stretch, you've got to execute and take care of the ball, guys have to make plays. I don't know what else to say. We haven't done that. There's been games, especially a game like this, where it's one possession either way but you need to get stops too."
This trend will not go away, and it's tough to watch. This game doesn't mean it's time to make a big move, but something needs to happen with this group to end this team on the right track. It makes little sense for a team with the most 20+ point victories in the NBA to also be 0-10 in close games.
The next game will be Friday night, also at home, against the Charlotte Bobcats. It will be broadcast on FS North at 7pm.