Well, the Wolves blew another game they should have won last night in New Orleans. The following is from Jerry Zgoda's recap for the Star Tribune:
As the Wolves already had done in games against Denver, Milwaukee and Portland (twice) this season, they let that 17-point lead — 38-21 in the first quarter’s final minute — disintegrate from what interim coach Sam Mitchell called "beautiful basketball" into what point guard Ricky Rubio labeled selfishness.
This is how his article ended:
Rubio also dismissed the notion that youth cost his team another game.
"It's not just the young guys, it's everything on the team," he said. "You can't blame everything on the young guys because we don't have enough experience. It's basketball. We've got to play more simple. Something is not working."
Something is not working. That's the real takeaway from another dispiriting loss, a game that started so beautifully as the Wolves opened the game with arguably the best pace they have played with in any quarter this season, leading to 38 first quarter points, yet ended in predictable fashion with another complete collapse.
The Wolves blew another opportunity to build from and there are no new lessons to be learned.
As Tim Faklis wrote in his recap at A Wolf Among Wolves (before diving into his new found love for the show New Girl on Netflix instead of writing about the wretched details of another defeat), we've seen these same dire results before. Too many times, actually.
When the Wolves have gone up by double-digits this season, they find ways to let it all slip away. Like Rubio said above, one can only blame these constant collapses on youth so many times. The team plays selfishly when they gain big leads, Sam Mitchell sticks with ineffective lineups for long stretches, the defensive intensity diminishes, and they rely on isolation offense instead of sharing the basketball.
Rubio is right; the collapses are more than a product of youth and continually pointing towards age and inexperience as the main reason for losing substantial leads is no longer useful. Everyone that watches the Wolves understands they are young and part of being a young team in the NBA is learning how to close games, but these are complete and utter collapses, not one possession contests with the shot clock turned off as the result hangs in the balance in the final seconds. Whatever the Wolves are doing is not working and that's been obvious for quite some time.
When things don't work, change becomes necessary.
Game Notes (via Timberwolves PR)
- The New Orleans Pelicans erased a 17-point first quarter deficit, outscoring the Wolves 63-39 in the second half en route to a 114-99 win. Anthony Davis led the Pelicans with 35 points on 13-of-22 shooting.
- The Wolves failed to hit a field goal from the 6:14 mark of the third quarter until 8:37 of the fourth quarter, going 0-of-8 from the floor with eight turnovers. Minnesota was outscored 19-6 run during the stretch. After the Wolves scored the first two points of the second half to take a 62-51 lead, the Pelicans ran off a 14-2 run to take a 65-64 lead.
- Minnesota hit on 15 of its first 20 shots, but finished the game making 21 of its last 56 shots (37.5%).
- Minnesota got off to a hot start, hitting seven of its first eight shots en route to a season-best 38 first-quarter points, the Wolves’ highest scoring first quarter since April 14, 2014 at Golden State.
- Minnesota fell to 4-5 in games it held a 17+ point lead.
- Wolves rookie Karl-Anthony Towns nearly recorded a double-double in the first quarter, scoring nine points and grabbing seven rebounds. He finished the night with 20 points and 13 rebounds, good for his rookie-leading 20th double-double and 9th 20-point/10-rebound game. Towns has now pulled down double-digit boards in four of the last five games.
- Andrew Wiggins tallied a team-high 21 points, his sixth 20-point game in his last seven outings. He has now scored 20+ points in a game 23 times this season.
- A night after attempting 40 free throws (one off a season high), the Wolves got to the line 31 times (including 22 in the first half), making 24.
Thought experiment: if Raptors & Bulls swapped their opp FT%, Raptors would rise from 11th in DRtg to 5th & Bulls would fall 6th to 14th.— Tom Haberstroh (@tomhaberstroh) January 20, 2016
One of the first orders of business for newly extended Nuggets GM Tim Connelly: Trying to find a new home via trade for big man J.J Hickson— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) January 20, 2016
Pelicans guard Eric Gordon had surgery this morning to repair his fractured right ring finger and is expected to be our 4-6 weeks.— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) January 20, 2016
Today's musical guest is Banks with "Drowning."