MINNEAPOLIS – Interim head coach Melvin Hunt guided the Denver Nuggets to their second straight victory under his leadership at Target Center on Wednesday night, after taking over for Brian Shaw on Tuesday.
Denver responded to the coaching change for a second night in a row – on Tuesday night they beat the Milwaukee Bucks 106-95 – on a road back-to-back against a Wolves squad that had a full day's rest in preparation for the game. Minnesota gave the Clippers, Grizzlies, and Bulls a run for their money and genuine scare over the last three contests, but ultimately lost all three games.
On Wednesday the Wolves looked lethargic, uninterested, flat, and all-around putrid in front of their home crowd – resulting in a blowout loss, 100-85. This was easily one of the worst games of the season. Midway through the third quarter, when the game already appeared to be in the books, I implored the Twittersphere to start sending me recipes for this recap. The foodies weren't all that interested in helping out, but this tweet gave me a good chuckle...
@canishoopus An NBA Victory: 1 Cup of Good passing 2 Spoonfuls of Stardom 3 pinches of Salty looks from the opposing coach.— Andrew Montanye (@AndrewMontanye) March 5, 2015
Throughout the season I've done my best to provide in-depth recaps when covering home games. I always try to give my best effort no matter the results. I want to paint a picture for fans who weren't able to watch the game. But this uninspired effort by the Wolves left me rather uninterested in writing thoroughly about this game. They never seemed fully engaged. Denver walked all over them.
So, with the inspiration of Andy G from Punch-Drunk Wolves, who wrote a good recap on the Wolves unexplainable letdown, I moved to conducting a Twitter poll to find out what people felt was the worst Wolves game of the season thus far.
OK... fan poll time (since none of you want to send recipes). Tell me the worst Wolves game this season & why? Will use good tweets in recap— canishoopus (@canishoopus) March 5, 2015
Let's look at what people came up with...
@canishoopus By far the 1st loss to the 76ers, because Sixers.— Road Runner (@TheRoadRunner9) March 5, 2015
@canishoopus Sixers at home when the Sixers were 0-17. That's all you need to know.— sgulasch (@sgulasch) March 5, 2015
Yes, that 85-77 home loss to the Sixers was utterly detestable. I wrote the following in my recap: It was a demoralizing experience; arguably the sloppiest game I've ever witnessed in person, filled with turnovers, loose balls and dreadful offensive execution.
I'm not sure which game this urinal flooded at Target Center but I can definitely see the metaphor there, Mr. Wilkerson. Thank you for this. I had a few games in mind when initially posing this question, but didn't consider that early season loss to the Orlando Magic in which Ricky Rubio went down with a brutal ankle injury. That undoubtedly altered the season, so I can respect the following submissions:
@canishoopus every team has bad losses so it's definitely Rubio getting hurt in the Magic game. Season went to hell after that.— Taylor (@TKurth1) March 5, 2015
@canishoopus magic game...you knew the season was over after that one— Jonathan Brenny (@JonathanBrenny) March 5, 2015
@canishoopus 7 November 2014 against Orlando. Sucked the life out of the building and the whole season.— Glenn Tuazon (@glenntuazon) March 5, 2015
Then, Canis' very own mr. eggplant chimed in with his opinion:
@canishoopus I think the 48 point loss to the Pelicans was the worst because it was a 48 point loss to the Pelicans.— Josh (@JoshsPseudonym) March 5, 2015
Plenty of folks agreed with him...
@canishoopus blowout losses on January 19th and 21st to the Hornets and Mavs had me wondering what I was doing w/ my life being a Wolves fan— Drew Mahowald (@DrewMahowald5) March 5, 2015
@canishoopus 11/14 against the Pelicans was the worst. The Wolves gave up 139 points(!) and lost by 48 points(!). +/- for the starters: -135— Lucas Seehafer (@LucasSeehafer) March 5, 2015
@canishoopus Pelicans game. I dvr'd it, came home and had to text a friend who'd watched it live so I wouldn't see the entire thing.— Literary Reference (@WillJohnson33) March 5, 2015
And... we're back to that ugly Sixers game (mostly the first one, but both losses were embarrassing).
@canishoopus philly game no doubt, being a wolves fan has been tough but a little part of me died watching that game— Aron Mozes (@aron_mozes) March 5, 2015
Some individuals thought the loss to Charlotte on MLK day was the worst. I disagree, but that's not to say it wasn't in the top five.
@canishoopus at CHA on MLK was brutal. Game at NO when they scored a billion points was lousy. Tonite awful bcuz we had all our starters— Wolves Slate Blue (@WolvesSlateBlue) March 5, 2015
@canishoopus Hands down MLK day v. CHA. From a gameplay standpoint we've never looked worse. Like an undeveloped D-league team.— Dane Moore (@NikolaPekovic) March 5, 2015
Flip Saunders on the 100-85 loss:
Out of the last two months this is probably the most disappointing loss just because we've been playing pretty good. I was somewhat concerned coming in, we've had such an emotional high here the last few weeks. I thought we could get off to a decent start and thought we could play our way into it, but we just didn't play enough with a sense of urgency. Any time you have a coaching change, they're going to play with a great amount of energy and they drove the ball at us. The things that we had problems with, as far as containing, they were able to take advantage of that. Faried again, similar to when we played at their place, he had a huge game.
"I guarantee we won't play that bad against Portland," Saunders emphatically stated during his brief postgame press conference. He was visibly perturbed with the results of the game, as he should be.
Here's a question that was posed to Garnett in the locker room after the game: Did you think Denver would come out with life after the previous two days?
No, to be honest, they quit on Brian Shaw and they'll quit again. A quitter is a quitter. That was my take on that. If you've got any kind of self pride about your future then you want to anticipate someone playing hard but I didn't really think about the Denver Nuggets and how they were going to come out, I was more concerned about us and us going forward and being better.
Thank you for your honesty,
Clive Owen KG. What did Ricky Rubio think about the team's lackluster showing?
"Well like I said, with no energy it's hard to defend. It's hard to do something good on defense. They just run better, score better, shoot better and pick and roll. Kenneth Faried killed us in the past with energy. Like I said, if you've got to say something today it's that we didn't bring the energy. Sometimes you can make shots, you can play bad but the only thing you can't afford is not bringing energy and today we didn't do it and we have to learn. We paid the price; we didn't have even a chance to win the game."
This was one of the only plays I enjoyed watching:
- Ricky Rubio still logged 41 minutes (why must you do this Flip?) although the game was pretty much decided at halftime (60-43) and finished with 10 points and 10 assists. Again, he struggled with his shot (4-13). At one point in the game KG yelled "KEEP SHOOTING" at Rubio. I agree, let it rip Rubio. There's really nothing to lose at this point in the season. This was Rubio's fourth straight double-double with point and assists, the longest such streak of his career. The last Wolves player to tally four straight point/assist double-doubles was Terrell Brandon (Apr. 23-30, 1999). Shout-out to Stop-n-Pop.
- Andrew Wiggins finished with 20 points on 8-of-16 shooting tonight. This was his 20th 20+ point effort of the season. Wiggy is now averaging 20.9 points over his last seven games.
- Kevin Garnett finished with 11 points (5-6 from the floor) and six rebounds in 21 minutes. He was the only Wolves player that finished in the positive (+5).
- Payne and Dieng were a nightmare defensively. I don't feel like going in-depth, but it was not encouraging to see.
- Add Kenneth Faried to the "Wolves Killer" list. He finished with a team-high 18 points and 14 rebounds. The Manimal has averaged 16.3 points and 13.5 rebounds in four games against the Wolves this season (Denver is 3-1).
- Will Barton scored 17 points off the bench for Denver, leading all Nuggets' reserves as they outscored the Wolves' bench 47-29. Barton is now averaging 15.7 points over his last six games and all five of his highest scoring performances this season have come with the Nuggets after being acquired at the trade deadline from the Blazers, as part of the Arron Afflalo trade.
- The Nuggets beat up the Wolves in pretty much every aspect of the game: 19-3 on the fast break, 52-28 in the paint, 21-11 in second chance points, 8-20 from downtown compared to 3-18, 27 assists to 18, 45.7 percent shooting to 39.0 percent. It was brutal to watch.