MINNEAPOLIS — With Russell Westbrook sitting out to rest his body for the playoffs, and the Timberwolves playing for nothing but ping pong balls—or building the right habits as Tom Thibodeau would argue—the real main attraction that brought a giant crowd to Target Center for the last home game of the season was an unveiling of the long-awaited new logo.
The hype video was outstanding to watch live in person surrounded by a sellout crowd announced at 19,356. I felt a chill shake down my spine when Slug started the intro.
“Minnesota. Our neck of the woods,” he says with an arrogance that made me proud to be a lifelong Minnesotan. “Rugged but beautiful. Cold but hungry. Yeah, we’re nice. But don’t test us. With no fear we venture into the unknown. We make it happen in all weather. We make it happen with pride. To some, pride is who you are. It’s who you’ve been, what you’ve done. But up here, pride is also about where you’re headed. So what’s next? Well, to know where we’re going we gotta take it back to where the game tipped-off.”
The logo was leaked earlier in the day on the Star Tribune’s website, but after taking some time to really look at it tonight I think it’s a huge upgrade from the old worn-out look of the past. The number of notifications we received on the Canis Hoopus Twitter account was pretty hilarious. People kept telling us the new logo looks the Canis logo.
“It was an honor to work with the Timberwolves on creating this new identity and I’m glad to finally share a piece of our work with the public,” the creator Rodney Richardson of RARE Design said. “I learned so much about this great state through the process and my team worked hard to create a logo that Minnesotans could be proud of, one that reflects the hard working, progressive and innovative people of this state.”
An actual game took place tonight amidst all of the new logo hype. The Wolves looked terribly disinterested in the first quarter and found themselves in the hole 56-43 at halftime. Andrew Wiggins began the night with an array of bricks, starting 1-11 and shooting 5-17 from the floor through three quarters.
“I was missing layups, little baby hook shots, everything,” Wiggins said.
The defense was awful through the first 12-15 minutes. There was zero intensity, slow rotations, and no real apparent desire to get stops. “Got behind quite a bit, rebounding was problematic, reaction to the ball was really lethargic,” Thibodeau assessed afterwards.
In the third quarter, the Wolves found life. We finally have a game, folks!
They started to feed off the energy in the building as they fought back to take the 72-71 lead after three quarters. Everything looked crisp in the third. I felt like the execution on both ends was 200 times better after the break. I can only imagine the message Thibs and the coaching staff had for the team after two quarters of lifeless play in front of a packed house. If you’ve been following along this season, the early season third quarter woes should be annoyingly familiar, but tonight that was completely flipped in their favor (29-15).
The fourth was tight all the way through, exchanging multiple leads and ties before Victor Oladipo hit a 21-foot jumper with six seconds left in the game to give the Thunder the 100-98 lead. Andrew Wiggins narrowly missed his clean 25-foot three point attempt at the buzzer to send the Wolves to another loss in the last home game of the season. That means they finished one game under .500 (20-21) at Target Center. Game 82 is tomorrow night in Houston.
- Karl-Anthony Towns finished with 26 points and 12 rebounds. Tonight was his ninth 20+ point game in a row and 61st double-double of the season. Towns (2033 points) passed Kevin Love (2010 in 2013-14) for the most points in a single season in franchise history. Towns (986 rebounds) also passed Kevin Garnett (981 in 2001-02) for the fifth-most rebounds in a single season in franchise history.
- Towns needs 14 boards in the season finale tomorrow night in Houston to become the youngest player in NBA history (15th overall and first since Duncan in 2001-02) to tally 2000+ points and 1000+ rebounds in a single season. In his three meetings with the Rockets this season, Towns is averaging 18.7 rebounds per game, including grabbing a season-high 22 at Houston on Feb. 25.
- Ricky Rubio posted his 25th double-double of the season as he finished with 14 points and 10 assists. Rubio has now scored in double-digits in 21 of his last 24 games, averaging 16.0 points on 42 percent shooting.
- Gorgui Dieng scored 19 points on 9-11 shooting. He added eight rebounds. G should be taking multiple corner threes per game and I hope this is something Thibs integrates into the offense next season. Dieng is better in the corner than on either elbow or standing in the mid-range slots where he consistently pump fakes or does dribble hand-offs with the guards. He has more time to get off his shot in the corners, too (real Wolves fans know the loading time on this trebuchet). I believe this is an untapped aspect of his game that could help maximize his ability.
- Wiggins finished 7-22 and his first 10-12 shots were mostly not attempts I would advise. Too many long-twos, plus some unwise contested drives (Hi, Clyde!) and layups in traffic. I love having a better chance to get Jonathan Isaac in the draft, though nobody seems convinced they will keep the pick, but I really wanted to see Wiggs hit the game-winner at the buzzer at the risk of losing lottery odds. Buzzer beaters are the best and I want the best for Maple Jordan. Additionally: His defensive intensity in the fourth was inspiring to see. He had 3-4 awesome defensive plays in the final quarter. His off-ball awareness is something that’s been better than ever before, most noticeably after the All-Star break. That’s been promising to witness. Wiggins has just been more active all-around, looking to jump passing lanes for steals and attacking the cup for key defensive rebounds. It’s been subtle, but noticeable.
- Victor Oladipo finished with 20 points on 8-16 shooting. Meanwhile, Norris Cole added a nice punch to the Thunder bench (great flattop by the way) with a season-high 12 points. Kyle Singler (sigh) also had his season-high with 11 points.
- Oklahoma City’s reserves outscored the Wolves’ bench 38-20. The need to find bench players this summer cannot be overstated. THEY. NEED. A. BENCH. NEXT. SEASON.
- Domantas Sabonis looked very good, scoring 19 points to go with nine rebounds. This was his 13th double-digit effort this season. The 19 points were his second-highest point total this season (20 at Boston, Dec. 23). I’m sure Sabonis will be in the league for a long time. His floor awareness and unselfishness is always apparent.
- Oklahoma City outrebounded Minnesota 54-35. The Wolves almost always lose when they get outrebounded. Thibs has made this quite clear throughout the entire season. If they lose the battle of the boards with two centers playing heavy minutes together they likely will not win.
Thibs on young players playing well in tight games:
“Well that’s what we have to learn. It’s the same thing. We’re up, there’s 44 seconds to go, you don’t want to beat yourself, so you have to be disciplined. You don’t trick people, you just have to be sound. We don’t need crazy shots, we don’t need gambles, all you have to do is be disciplined and do your job. You do that, you’re going to give yourself a good chance to win. We had the lead. All you’ve got to do is get stops.”
Towns on trying to gain momentum for next season:
“We wanted to come out with some wins, go out with some momentum for next season. But the only way we can do that is to go in tomorrow with the energy and discipline needed to win.”
On playing down to competition:
“I don’t think we did that. I think we just came out with low energy. We started picking up energy in the second and third quarters. Fourth quarter we made it more of a bar fight and we didn’t come out the winner.”
Andrew Wiggins on the loss:
“This is a game we wanted to win. A lot of fans came out. Sucks that we didn’t get a win for them.”
On the slow start:
“I don’t think so. We knew they were going to come out hard regardless. Everyone plays for something. They’ve got guys looking for playoff minutes, certain things. We knew they were going to come out hard.”
On Thibs’ saying he and Towns needed to find their voice this year:
“I feel like it means just find your way, find who you are, and where you are in this league basically. I feel like we’ve done that. We’ve gotten people’s attention. We play hard every game, play together, and we’re only getting better.”
The Boycott is Over
My Dad has been boycotting Wolves games for seven years because he took a stiff “I will not attend games until they make the playoffs” stance around 2009-2010. Now, even though he says it has been about seven years since his last visit, I can’t truly say that number is correct. I was trying to think about the last time he actually went to a game and it feels closer to eight years, but he says seven so we will stick with that.
Not that anybody actually cares (Passive Aggressive Mom Voice) whether or not my father was at the Target Center, but it meant a lot to me to see him in the building tonight. This is basically my second home. I spend so much time there from late October to mid-April. It’s a good feeling to see friends and family. I’m like, “HEY! THE WOLVES ARE ACTUALLY ON YOUR RADAR. THAT’S COOL! PLEASE TELL ME I’M NOT WASTING MY LIFE BLOGGING ABOUT A TEAM THAT CAN NEVER GO TO THE PLAYOFFS!”
Anyways, with the logo unveiling and my dad actually physically being at a home game, well, I kind of felt like maybe we are actually stepping into the new era. I couldn’t help but think about how critical this summer is for the franchise. They have to get everything right at every single stage to make sure the enthusiasm doesn’t fade into the darkness. They cannot afford to screw things up.
Zach Lowe dropped an article (click the header above) on the Wolves new logo during the unveiling on Tuesday night. “The new logo is part of a franchise overhaul designed to satisfy that urge for something new — and show the commitment is real,” Lowe writes. “Before next season starts, the Wolves will debut new uniforms, a new court design, and a renovated arena.”
Updated Tankathon Lottery Odds
With the loss tonight, along with the King win over the Suns, the Wolves have jumped into the seventh best odds in the lottery in what looks to be the strongest draft class since 2003. One more game remains, which takes place tomorrow night in Houston. We’ll see how many players the Rockets choose to rest in preparation for the playoffs; they are locked into the third seed and will play the Thunder in the first round.
One last home recap for the season is officially in the books.
I want to say thank you to all the people that have read my recaps and articles this season and continue to support me. I greatly appreciate the community here at Canis Hoopus and look forward to the future of Wolves basketball.
If you have made it this far, I award you 50,000 Canis Hoopus points to use however you please during the NBA playoffs or over the summer in the comments section. Another gift for you (unless you’re somehow against listening to the amazing Kendrick Lamar): An awesome new track! Cheers, Canis Hoopers.