MINNEAPOLIS — Hello darkness, my old friend. I’ve come to talk with you again.
The Wolves lost another game they should have won. All I could think about was Hello Darkness Vines that once overtook the internet, you know before Twitter decided Vine was no longer a suitable part of their future or the internet's premier tool for making short-form videos. What a #sad decision.
This time around, the details were somewhat different but similar in the way that the Wolves blew another game because they allowed another gigantic run. Again, the offense ran dry and the defense collapsed over an entire quarter.
Tonight, the Boston Celtics used a major run to gain confidence, they grabbed the lead, and ultimately they stole the win in another frustrating game.
But this time it came in the fourth quarter instead of the typically rotten third. The Wolves are last in the NBA in third quarter net rating (-30.5) as you’ve probably heard nearly a thousand times already, though they still possess a 2.1 net rating overall (11th in the league, per NBA.com).
“I’m sick and tired of coming in front of you and having to say the same thing,” said Karl-Anthony Towns.
“Coach is giving us great plans. We’re doing a great job for three quarters and we always seem to not play four out of four quarters. We’re playing three out of four, two out of four. We’ve got to do what we’ve got to do. We’ve got to fix it. That’s up to us.”
Boston used a 17-0 run to start the fourth and ultimately snatched another game from the Wolves hands after outscoring them 31-12 in the final frame. Isaiah Thomas dropped 29 points and the Celtics came back from 13 points down in the fourth to beat the Timberwolves 99-93 on Monday night at Target Center.
“I’m really disappointed in myself,” Zach LaVine said afterward. “We were playing great. We gotta win that. It was in our hands and we pretty much threw it out like a piece of paper.”
LaVine finished 0-7 from deep as the Wolves had their worst outing of the season beyond the arc, going 4-24. Five of LaVine’s misses came in the fourth, mostly off good looks, to go with the rest of the team’s offensive woes. The Wolves finished 5-25 from the field with only one free throw attempt in that dreadful final quarter.
“We laid a damn egg in the fourth, so I don’t know, it’s ridiculous,” LaVine concluded.
Maybe the most frustrating part of this loss is that the Celtics bench, aside from Horford, fueled the comeback against the Wolves’ starters, who all logged over 38 minutes. Minnesota went scoreless until the 5:18 mark in the fourth after finally putting together a reasonable third quarter (the were in the plus, 29-26).
The lineup of Terry Rozier, Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, Jonas Jerebko, and Al Horford went +17 to start the fourth. With each bucket, you could see the Wolves tighten up. The pressure mounted with each possession. Oh, not this again. Hello darkness, we meet again.
Rozier scored a career-high 12 points, acting as a huge spark off the bench for Boston. The five made shots were a career-high, while his two three-pointers matched his personal best (4x). Al Horford played in his fifth game this season after dealing with a concussion over the past three weeks and finished with 20 points, six rebounds, five assists and three blocks. It was Horford’s first 20 point game of his Celtics career after signing that mega four-year deal worth $113 this past summer.
Karl-Anthony Towns had the best game of his sophomore season, finishing with 27 points, 18 rebounds, three assists, and two blocks in 38 minutes.
His bucket, plus the foul, on Jerebko with 5:18 remaining in the fourth were the Wolves first points of the quarter if you cared to know exactly how bad the offensive drought was. They went from being up 81-68 at the start of the fourth to being down 85-84 after Towns’ And-1.
But everyone that was watching has witnessed this show before. You can always tell how tight this team gets when things start to crumble, how they don’t exactly know what to do offensively when they go dry and how everything is coming to a crashing halt. It’s tough to criticize their offense too much tonight, compared to previous third quarters with the stagnant one-on-one offense, because the ball was moving pretty well and they were getting good looks. Both Thibodeau and the players mentioned getting open shots, unlike previous bad third quarters, but they simply couldn’t get anything to fall.
Give credit to Boston’s rugged wing defenders, namely Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart, for holding Andrew Wiggins (14 points, 5-18 from the field and 4-6 from the line) and Zach LaVine (only 11 points on 12 shots and three free throws) to poor performances.
Thibodeau didn’t have much to say after the game, and neither did many of the players. He did, however, seem less frustrated with this loss as opposed to other home games doomed by third quarters (losses to the Hornets or Nuggets for example).
“It just shows, you never let your guard down and you have to strive to be a 48-minute team and we’re not doing that right now,” Thibodeau said. “We have to get back in it, we got to work, we got to concentrate, then improve.”
With three more games this week, one can only hope this familiar darkness—losing games they have complete control of because they go into a weird funk for a quarter—that has overshadowed the otherwise strong play from the Wolves begins to fade away.