clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Pistons 129, Wolves 123: Pitiful Defense Dooms The Home Squad

New, comments

The Wolves couldn’t get stops and it cost them.

NBA: Detroit Pistons at Minnesota Timberwolves Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Well, that’s an ugly loss and a game the Wolves definitely could’ve had. There’s a lot to dig into tonight so let’s get started.

The Wolves started slow (down 12-0) but responded well with a 10-0 run. There was an obvious uptick in energy when Josh Okogie came into the game, and Minnesota looked much better as a whole whenever Dario Saric was in the game. Both guys got over 30 minutes tonight which is something that needs to continue. It is apparent that Okogie is a menace on the defensive end, and that the Wolves may not be tapping into all that they can get from Saric.

Rose was the main catalyst tonight offensively, pouring in 33 points on 14-29 shooting. He carried the offensive load for a while, but his decision making was terrible down the stretch. Minnesota is in a tough spot at point guard because they need Rose’s ability to create for himself, yet he still gets tunnel vision at times like he did down the stretch tonight.

Wiggins and Towns combined to go 12-32 from the field, which is never going to be a winning formula for the Wolves. They were clearly disappointing on the offensive end, but I thought both did a few good things defensively. KAT’s rim protection was solid, although it did lead to some offensive rebounding opportunities for Andre Drummond which is something we were worried about coming into the game.

To be quite frank, the defense tonight was terrible. Detroit made some tough shots, sure. However, it’s never a good thing when one of the worst shooting teams in the NBA posts 49/42 shooting splits.

In particular, Blake Griffin and Reggie Bullock killed the Wolves. Griffin was contained on the interior for the most part, but Taj really struggled with defending him at the three-point line. This led to Griffin hitting 5 threes on his way to 34 points, the majority of those coming in the second half. Bullock made 7 threes himself which led to a career high 33 points.

Detroit made 20 threes as a team, even though they came in making just 32.5% of their threes coming into tonight. It was a truly pathetic performance defensively. It is a simplistic way to view the game as a whole, but the Wolves lost the three-point line by 33 points. It’s really tough to win the game when you lose the math game that severely.

It was a kind of confusing night from Thibs and the rest of the coaching staff. At the start of the game, the Wolves were killing Detroit by getting a guard switched onto Towns and letting him punish the smaller guards. They went away from that as the game went on, for some reason. That’s not all on Thibs, though. We’ve seen KAT disappear for stretches of games before, and tonight was one of those nights.

One positive thing to note from Thibs tonight was his rotations. I was thrilled to see him give both Okogie and Saric as much run as he did. You’d have to think (and hope) that Okogie will get around 25 minutes a night moving forward. He’s clearly earned that right.

There’s a lot of discussion about whether or not Saric should replace Taj Gibson in the starting lineup, but frankly it doesn’t really matter as long as Thibs plays Saric more than Taj. It was strange to see Thibs go back to Gibson down the stretch, but these are baby steps in the right direction.

It is also clear that the Wolves need to come up with some sort of plan on offense at the end of games outside of let Derrick Rose play hero ball. There was no ball movement at the end of the fourth quarter or in overtime. Part of that is surely on Rose himself, but much of that is on the coaching staff to get guys in positions to make plays.

Tonight, on many accounts, was very disappointing. To blow a 14 point lead at home is really tough. These are the kinds of games that Minnesota cannot lose if they want to remain relevant in the Western Conference playoff picture.