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Wolves Weekly Wrap: Limping to the All-Star Break

As the All-Star break approaches, plenty of questions remain.

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Chicago Bulls Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

“There will be an opportunity to go on the break and recharge, but don’t go on the break before the break,” Timberwolves head coach Tom Thibodeau said to the media Sunday night. “Stay disciplined. Stay into what we have to do. Concentrate, improve and we go from there.”

The argument could be made that the Timberwolves have begun their All-Star break a little bit early given the performance over the past week. Minnesota failed to execute down the stretch in two consecutive close games resulting in losses to a reeling Cleveland team and a rebuilding Chicago team. The Wolves followed those displays by playing half-asleep for three quarters against Sacramento before a dominant fourth quarter was enough to edge the Kings.

The team has made playing down to inferior competition a normal thing, which is frustrating on its own. But it’s even more frustrating when losses to Orlando, Atlanta and Chicago begin to pile up on the schedule.

Canis Hoopus’s own John Meyer was in the locker room following Sunday night’s win over the Kings and made it clear that, even after a win, the Timberwolves were disappointed with their performance.

On the bright side, though, the Wolves were able to win despite playing poorly -- something that hasn’t been the case very often in recent team history. The Timberwolves have folded in close games against inferior teams many times throughout the season and it was, at the very least, a step in the right direction to see them take over the fourth quarter and earn the win over Sacramento and stop yet another losing streak at just two games.

Thibodeau’s statements about going on the break before the break could be a motivational tactic to his players. The Timberwolves get a heck of an opportunity to respond with a matchup against the 42-13 Houston Rockets on Tuesday.

Derrick Rose to Minnesota?

Amidst the chaos set forth by the Cleveland Cavaliers on trade deadline day was the multiple transactions that suddenly made Derrick Rose available. Rose was traded to Utah on Thursday and then officially waved by the Jazz shortly after.

NBA Insider Marc Stein has reported mutual interest between the Timberwolves and Rose throughout the week and will be surprised if it doesn’t happen.

If Thibodeau and Rose form a reunion, several pertinent questions would need answering. How many Tyus Jones minutes would be removed to make room for Rose? How would his ball-stopping tendencies mesh with those of Jamal Crawford with the second unit? Have Jimmy Butler and Rose figured out their issues from their days in Chicago?

If Thibodeau wants to add Rose as a third point guard, that seems like an appropriate move for a veteran with the scoring punch Rose has on a minimum deal. But Rose and Crawford would not mesh well as the backcourt for the second unit. Jones’s defensive instincts and basketball I.Q. have saved Minnesota’s bench unit game after game this season, both of which would be lost if Tyus was replaced by Rose.

Thibodeau and Rose reportedly met after the Timberwolves win over the Cavaliers in Minneapolis a couple of weeks ago, so there’s reason to believe that relationship is still on great terms and ultimately could be what brings Rose to Minnesota.

Clip of the Week

This made me feel feelings.

Tweet of the Week

Karl-Anthony Towns might be the most efficient 7-foot scorer of all-time, so that’s neat.

Weekly Grade

Minnesota failed to execute in crunch time two games in a row, and it resulted in a couple of bad losses to Cleveland and Chicago. If it hadn’t been for a bounce-back fourth quarter against Sacramento, the Wolves would have lost all three games this week and the grade likely would have been an F.

However, the Wolves displayed some resiliency in Sunday night’s fourth quarter to step yet another losing streak at just two games. Minnesota is now 8-0 this season after losing two straight games. The next step is avoiding two straight losses.

Grade: D+

What’s Next

Minnesota has two games on the agenda this week before the All-Star break — one against one of the best teams in the Western Conference and another against one of the lower teams in the West.

The Wolves will host Houston on Tuesday in a potential Western Conference semifinal preview. The last time the Wolves played a team with such a heavy emphasis on the three-point shot (Wednesday against the Cavs), Minnesota fell right into the opponent’s game.

Then on Thursday, the Wolves host the new-look Los Angeles Lakers as Isaiah Thomas comes to town in purple and gold.

The Timberwolves have a chance to make a statement with two more home wins this week, which would push their home winning streak to 15 games.