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Miserable Third Quarter Dooms Wolves in 115-108 Loss to Hornets

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The Wolves were bitten again in the third, leading to another disappointing loss.

Charlotte Hornets v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Ugh. Ugh Ugh Ugh.

It was the same old story for the Wolves tonight at Target Center, as a disastrous third quarter and terrible second half defense cost them another game. The Hornets scored 69 points in the second half to erase a 12 point Wolves halftime lead and take a 115-108 decision.

At this point I have no idea what to say. It was absolutely no surprise to see the Hornets come out of the locker room for the second half with a sense of purpose and an energy the Wolves showed no sign of matching. Charlotte quickly got themselves back in the game with more aggressive defense, leading to good shots at the other end, while the Wolves were, once again, a step slow.

It’s like a broken record at this point. Teams come out desperate after good Wolves first halves, push them a step further out, contest, and the Wolves settle. Ball movement disappears, guys tighten up, and all of a sudden it’s an avalanche.

This time, the Hornets got up as many as twelve points in the third, completely reversing the game. The Wolves managed to climb back into it behind a strong stretch of play from Andrew Wiggins, but ultimately their defense let them down late in the game, as a series of threes and dunks by the Hornets did them in after the Wolves closed to within two on a Ricky Rubio three with four minutes left.

What’s frustrating is that on the whole, they are playing offense about as well as they can, and they are still losing. The defense must be making Thibs crazy, but they continue to have the same problems: poor rotations, particularly in the pick and roll, a real lack of rim protection, and failure to close out on three point shooters. When Cody Zeller and Frank Kaminsky do that much damage (a combined 34 on 14-23 from the field), things are not going well. Both were able to get in the paint and finish with relative ease, something that should not be happening.

I could go in depth into individual players, but this doesn’t feel like the time to do it. I’ll bullet point some individuals.

  • I love that Karl-Anthony Towns can shoot threes, but he needs to get in the paint more. three for ten from three, and no free throws. That’s not ideal.
  • Zach LaVine was on fire from three in the first half, but didn’t have much of an impact in the second. His knee is clearly still an issue. He wasn’t moving with his usual verve. Gotta get him right.
  • Kemba Walker.
  • Nemanja Bjelica obviously didn’t star like he did on Sunday, but made a couple of threes. He doesn’t touch the ball enough with the bench unit.
  • Kris Dunn looked better than he has for the last couple of weeks. Tyus Jones was a DNP-CD.
  • Adreian Payne...had his ups and downs, but made a contribution for the second straight game in the absence of Shabazz Muhammad and Brandon Rush.
  • Bit of a tough night for Gorgui Dieng, who had five turnovers and only six shot attempts in 33 minutes. Seems like he’s been marginalized offensively the last few games. He did have an awesome and-one dunk off a feed from KAT in the first half though.
  • Next up is the 76ers at Target Center on Thursday.