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Timberwolves Fall to Bulls 96-89

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Free throws and rebounding doomed the Wolves tonight in Chicago as they fall to the Bulls 96-89

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Well, in the end, that game had little to recommend it. It was an ugly affair from start to finish, with a lot of missed shots and ugly offense, but in the end the Bulls hung on against the Wolves despite shooting under 40% from the field. It was a narrative we've seen before as the Wolves fell behind early, and while they were able to hang in there throughout the game, and even take a brief one point lead in the 4th quarter, were unable to finish things off as the Bulls made just enough plays down the stretch to secure the victory.

Rebounding was a major problem for the Wolves tonight, as the Bulls grabbed 22 offensive rebounds to the Wolves 10, contributing to their paint scoring domination (48-16). Time and time again the Wolves were left flat footed as the Bulls aggressively hunted their own missed shots. It hurt the Wolves throughout, including on a couple of late possessions when the game could have been turned with a timely rebound that they were unable to grab. This despite missing Pau Gasol and losing Taj Gibson early to an ankle injury.

Defensive rebounding has been a problem all year for the Wolves, and it continued tonight pretty much regardless of who was in the ball game. It's something that needs to be addressed desperately.

The other key was free throw shooting, where the Wolves squandered a major advantage in attempts (31-16) by only making 21 for 67%. Andrew Wiggins was the big culprit here, going only 4-10 from the line (while going 5-11 from the field and finishing with 14 points). Wiggins had trouble on Jimmy Butler tonight and was in foul trouble for parts of the game, which limited him to 33 minutes, significantly less than usual.

This was not a pretty game in any sense, and reminds us that the Wolves still have a long way to go.

NOTES

  • Shout out to Zach LaVine, who had one of his more effective outings tonight, going 3-5 from the field and finishing with 9 points and 6 rebounds. He helped keep the Wolves in the game early in the 4th quarter, and looked as good as he has all season in his 10 minutes of playing time.
  • Ricky Rubio is really looking for his shot, and not finding it for the most part. 5-14 tonight, and despite his 10 assists and six boards, it was not a great game for him. He really needs to run the pick and roll with a partner who can score--something the Wolves are in short supply of at the moment.
  • Adreian Payne...yikes. Had a couple of awkward but effective back down moves against a smaller defender in the first half, but other than that looked like he had no idea what he was doing. Out of position constantly on defense, contributor to the awful rebounding, five fouls in 27 minutes, and amazingly managing to make the Wolves spacing even worse. It's the Zach LaVine thing: it's pretty unfair to run him out there like this when he has no business playing that many minutes.
  • Wolves play tomorrow at home against the Grizzlies. I'm going to leave it there, as I would rather just forget about this one.