The story of this one is pretty easy to tell: The Wolves committed 25 turnovers which led to 43 Suns points, a deficit they could not overcome in today's 108-101 loss to the Suns that wasn't as close as the final score.
Things began to get rocky for the Wolves in the 2nd quarter, when the 2nd unit could not produce any flow on offense at all and began turning it over in bunches. Gorgui Dieng in particular was a culprit, with five first half turnovers, but others contributed as well, and the Suns were feasting on the transition opportunities those turnovers provided.
The Wolves were able to hang around until halftime, when they were down six, thanks in large part to Kevin Martin's exploits, as he was able to get to the free throw line time and again in a half that was called incredibly tightly. The teams combined for 41 first half free throws but only 17 in the 2nd half despite a couple of late intentional fouls by the Wolves. Those whistles were problematic for the Wolves. Karl-Anthony Towns got two quick ones and was never able to get into a rhythm in this one. Nemanja Bjelica, who has really been struggling lately, also got in early trouble.
Still, the Wolves were in the game at halftime. The third quarter, however, was a catastrophe. Nobody could hang onto the ball or make a pass, and the Suns got easy look after easy look off the Wolves turnovers. Even Ricky Rubio was not immune as he made two of the worst passes we've seen from him during the quarter. Andrew Wiggins continued to be a minimal factor, and the Wolves could find nothing working due to their sloppiness. Things didn't improve with the 2nd unit inserted into the game and the Wolves were down 19 at the end of three.
Sam Mitchell was so frustrated that he put Andre Miller into the game at the end of the third and played him the entire fourth quarter, and the Wolves made something of a run with a lineup of Miller-LaVine-Muhammad-Rudez-Dieng, though in truth I think it was more about Phoenix letting up than anything the Wolves did. Rudez did get hot from behind the arc (3-5 from three), and LaVine made some shots during the quarter, but the Wolves never got close enough to make the Suns nervous, and they were continually able to make a big three pointer themselves when things got tight.
Mitchell rode that lineup for the entire fourth quarter, which was fine with me. I thought there was no chance to win throughout, so not coming back with his best players was OK; he probably felt like that unit was playing the best so he should keep them in there. Either explanation will do--the fourth quarter at least made things cosmetically nicer.
I'm hesitant to criticize anyone specifically for their play today, since if I mention one name you will naturally and reasonably point out half a dozen other guys who were also poor.
Still...Andrew Wiggins once again did not have much of an impact. 3 turnovers in the first half didn't help, and 13 points on 8 shots in 27 minutes...he didn't seem very engaged today. That marks his fewest shot attempts in a game this year.
Ricky Rubio was OK in the first half but had a particularly bad stretch in the third quarter and did not reappear. Nemanja Bjelica has not looked good recently and doesn't seem to understand his role. Gorgui Dieng made a few baskets in the 4th quarter, but was absolutely atrocious in the first half.
What else? I guess I should mention Zach LaVine and his team leading 28, but I don't know what to say. Most of it came in the 4th quarter when the game opened up and the Wolves were well behind. Perhaps it helped him to have Miller (a point guard) on the floor with him, though ultimately I think that was just a random coincidence. Sometimes he gets hot. He did today for a quarter after a few poor shooting games, so that's nice.
I dunno. They weren't ever winning this game with how they were playing, and I can't say anyone covered themselves in glory. It might be nice to see Rudez get some more consistent playing time as he's one of their few decent three point shooters, but even tonight his limitations were clear and his three turnovers showed that other than shooting it, there isn't a lot there.
Back home for the Nuggets on Tuesday which starts a 5 games in 7 nights stretch.