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Wolves Comeback Falls Short, Lose to Pacers 107-103

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In a game that was an embarrassment for nearly three quarters, the Wolves came roaring back only to fall short against the Pacers in Indianapolis. It is their first road loss of the year.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The Wolves were down by as many as 27 points in the third quarter before making a sustained run over the next 15 minutes to close with one point. Unfortunately, following a brilliant defensive play by Nemanja Bjelica got them the ball back, a poor pass by Andre Miller and mis-communication between Zach LaVine and Shabazz Muhammad turned the ball back over to the Pacers, who scored and were able to hold on from there for a 107-103 victory.

The story of this game, however, is not the comeback, but the horrific play that allowed the Pacers to build such a lead. The defense in particular was atrocious for three quarters, and after staying around for a quarter and a half, the Wolves completely collapsed under a barrage of wide open threes caused by terrible defense off screens, easy penetration, and basic swing passes.

The Wolves also turned the ball over with regularity, and failed to get it to their best scorers through much of the first three quarters.

Eventually they switched to a small lineup with Andre Miller and Zach LaVine in the back court, and Wiggins essentially playing the four spot with either Prince or Muhammad  and, at times, with Damjan Rudez in the game as well. They went centerless for most of the fourth quarter, which, while the small lineup had some advantages, Damjan Rudez was not providing them, and the Wolves missed some key rebounds in the 4th that hurt them.

At any rate, Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine got hot and the Wolves were able to get back in the game with Andre Miller running things from the point (and going for 10 and 5 himself).  Still, the comeback felt more like a random hot streak than anything else, though Wiggins' ability to finish around the hoop continues to improve.

I have to admit I wasn't paying the closest attention to the 2nd half until the last few minutes, so I probably won't do this justice. Let's bullet point:

  • Karl-Anthony Towns started strong, with 6 points and 6 rebounds in his first shift, but stopped getting the ball after that, and didn't have his usual impact. He played only 27 minutes for some reason; it was suggested he was tired after 4 in 5, which could be true. Still, he needs to get the ball. Finished with 12 and 9 on 5-9 from the field.
  • I'll save my point guard rant for an article I'm planning for tomorrow, but...good on Zach LaVine for making a bunch of shots late and helping key the comeback from the off-guard spot. But he was the main culprit in letting the game get out of hand for Indiana in the 2nd and 3rd quarters. Just atrocious on both sides of the ball.
  • Shabazz Muhammad seems to be flashing more of his aggressive, effective offensive game the last few contests. 9 points on 4-8 tonight, not huge, but a couple of patented maneuvers.
  • Kevin Martin, on the other hand, was completely invisible in his 13 minutes.
  • The Wolves lost both the offensive rebounding and turnover battles, and only went to the line 13 times.
  • The Wolves are now 0-3 in games Ricky Rubio hasn't played, and 4-2 with him.
Next up are the Grizzlies at home on Sunday.