Down 22. Up nine. Lose in overtime. A long time friend of the site used to refer to the Hawks as frauds, which if true, yikes. What does that make the Wolves after this debacle?
The Wolves did a lot of work to drop a home game to the lowly Atlanta Hawks, 123-120. Most egregiously, they shot 21-38 from the free throw line, with Andrew Wiggins leading the way at 5-12, including 2-6 in the overtime session, culminating in a miss that would have tied the game with under five seconds left.
But it wasn’t just free throws. The Wolves came out with absolutely no intensity, especially on defense, and the Hawks took advantage, rolling to a 42-27 lead after the first quarter. They were getting whatever they wanted, strolling to the rim unimpeded and finding wide open three pointers. Alex Poythress and Kent Bazemore led the way early with 12 and 10 respectively in the first frame as the Hawks made 15 of 23 shots.
The lead ballooned to as many as 22 in the second quarter before the Wolves found a bit of rhythm, started forcing some turnovers, and Karl-Anthony Towns got rolling. They were down 12 at halftime but it felt like they were in the game, especially given the Hawks problems this season.
The Wolves did in fact dominate the third quarter to the tune of 30-18, led by Towns and Robert Covington, who came alive defensively and added 12 points on offense. A hot start to the fourth, keyed by a couple of Derrick Rose threes saw the Wolves take a lead by as many as nine points, and it looked like they would cruise to victory over an outmanned squad.
Very little went right from that point on, however, as the Hawks roared back behind some aggressive attacks of the rivm, offensive rebounding, several Wolves turnovers, and poor shots. Ultimately, a Vince Carter three gave the Hawks the lead back. It wasn’t until this point that Towns took his first shot of the quarter, a driving dunk, which he followed up with another dunk off a Saric feed on the next possession to restore a three point Wolves lead. But a missed dunk by Covington, some more ill-advised shots, and the Wolves could not put the game away. Up two with the ball and 20 seconds left, they could not execute an in-bounds play, with Bazemore getting a steal when Saric tried to find Towns, and running out for the tying layup. A Derrick Rose isolation led nowhere, and game went to overtime.
Overtime turned on terrible free throw shooting and huge threes from Trae Young (his only attempt of the game, a pull up from 28 feet) that gave the Hawks the lead, and Kevin Huerter, who put them up four in the final minute. As noted above, the Wolves had a chance to tie it at the line, but Wiggins could not convert, the Hawks made two, and Josh Okogie did not get the foul call he wanted on a wild three attempt at the buzzer.
A truly terrible loss the Wolves really could not afford, it drops them to 16-19 on the season, with a three game in four night road trip upcoming.
- Derrick Rose re-aggravated his sore ankle at the end of regulation, and had to come out of the game a minute into overtime. He finished with 25 points on 10--24 from the field.
- Karl-Anthony Towns had a big night, with 31-19, five assists and three blocks, but the Hawks effectively double-teamed him at times and the Wolves were inconsistent in taking advantage of that.
- The Wolves scored 24 points off 23 Hawks turnovers, but gave up 20 points on their 14 turnovers. They also gave up 17 offensive boards to the Hawks.
- Towns, Wiggins, and Covington were all over 40 minutes tonight, and Rose was at 39 and his ankle hurts. In addition to that, they will have a night in Miami before a Sunday late afternoon tip. Not feeling great about that one.
- Terrible loss.