That was an NBA basketball game only in the sense that it was on the NBA schedule and will count in the NBA standings. But lord was that tough to watch.
The Celtics without Rajon Rondo beat the Wolves without Corey Brewer 114-98, and basically controlled the game the entire way. It stayed close until the last 5 minutes, which meant I actually kept watching, but it was a grim exercise that resembled actual entertainment only in the loosest of senses.
The main culprit tonight was defense, as the Wolves didn't play any. The Celtics shot 56.5% from the field thanks to multiple fast break opportunities and terrible interior defense from the Wolves. The Cs three main bigs, Jared Sullinger, Tyler Zeller, and Kelly Olynyk, combined to shoot 22-31 as time and again there was no defense in the post, no help rotations, and easy lay-ins as a result.
More or less everyone was crap at the defensive end, as Gorgui Dieng and Thad Young were constantly in the wrong spot, the "help" from the wings was non-existent (yes, I'm looking at you Shabazz Muhammad and Andrew Wiggins) and 2 or 3 passes had the perimeter guys scrambling behind the play. It was grotesque.
The offense wasn't a thing of beauty either, but at least I can say nice things about a couple of performers.
Shabazz Muhammad got only the third start of his career, and he did what he does off the bench: score. He finished with 26 points on 11-15 from the field, and was constantly active on the offensive end. He made several excellent cuts, and showed his now expected nose for the ball and ability to finish. He also made both of his 3 point attempts, and even finished with five assists. It was an impressive offensive display from Muhammad, who played a team high 38 minutes.
As a result of the Brewer trade and subsequent Muhammad start, Chase Budinger stepped into the reserve role that Muhammad had been occupying and had by far his best game of the season. 19 points on 8-12 from the floor including 3-5 from three, Budinger looked like the player we've been hoping to see for two years now. After terrible struggles so far this season, it was nice to see Bud have a big game, which included several big shots that kept the Wolves within shouting distance.
That's more or less it for the good news. Everyone else ranged from not very good to abjectly terrible. I'll single out Thad Young for a particularly egregious performance, only because he's a veteran and should know better. He hoisted up 19 shots, making only six, and looked just awful doing it. Just bad shots, an unwillingness to pass (though somehow he wound up leading the team with six assists; no idea how that happened), and any number of ill-advised drives resulting in off-balance, ugly shots. Add that to his two rebounds in 30 minutes, and Young had a just atrocious night.
Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine were also horrendous. Wiggins finished with five points on 2-10 shooting, with 8 of his attempts coming from outside the paint. It was everything disturbing about Wiggins' game. He missed a bunch of jump shots early, and was barely heard from again. LaVine...the numbers don't do justice to how much he struggled. 7 points on 3-7 from the field (actually an improvement on his shooting, though it's completely random with him. A couple of jumpers go in, a couple are airballs...all but one of his shots was from 22 feet or more). Three turnovers, three assists, unable to run an offense.
It's clear that Saunders is losing patience with him, as he pushed Mo Williams, who wasn't any better tonight, really, to 25 minutes.
Finally, the Wolves announced the Corey Brewer trade tonight. Here's some text from their presser:
Minneapolis/St. Paul - The Minnesota Timberwolves today announced they have completed a three-team trade with Houston and Philadelphia in which they have acquired guard Troy Daniels, two second-round draft picks and cash considerations from the Houston Rockets. As part of the deal, the Wolves send guard/forward Corey Brewer to Houston and forward/center Ronny Turiaf to Philadelphia. Philadelphia sends guard Alexey Shved to Houston and receives Houston's 2015 second round pick and the rights to Serhiy Lishchuk.
The draft picks acquired by the Wolves in the trade are as follows: Houston's protected second round pick in 2016 and Sacramento's protected second round pick in 2015 (originally acquired by Houston on Sept. 17, 2014).
That's it from me tonight. Next game is Sunday at home to the Pacers, after which the Wolves head back out on the road for a 4 game trip that will take us to the New Year.