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Wolves 116, Suns 114: Rose Saves The Day (But...)

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If we’re being honest, this performance probably deserves the recipe recap treatment.

NBA: Phoenix Suns at Minnesota Timberwolves
The fourth quarter comeback backcourt everyone obviously came to see.
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

MINNEAPOLIS — If you’ve followed Canis Hoopus for many years, you’re probably familiar with recipe recaps. Instead of writing in-depth summaries after brutal defeats, games that certainly didn’t warrant our full attention or effort, we would share a recipe and move on with our lives.

Derrick Rose saved the Wolves from getting that treatment, scoring 29 of his 31 points in the second half, including the game-winning jumper over rookie Mikal Bridges with 0.6 seconds on the clock.

But if we’re being honest, this was still a recipe worthy performance regardless of the outcome. So, here’s the only recipe that anyone responded to me with:

(Feel free to share a recipe in the comments!)

I actually have more to say about this game though. After getting whooped in Charlotte last night, the 11-win Phoenix Suns almost embarrassed the Wolves.

Deandre Ayton and Richaun Holmes both sat out, leaving the Suns especially vulnerable in the paint. (Noted Wolves Killer Ryan Anderson also got the DNP-CD.) The once promising Dragan Bender was tasked with going up against Karl-Anthony Towns, and the Suns had to bring the double over on KAT throughout the game to force the ball out of his hands, or at least make one of his patented righty hooks a lot more difficult. Towns did almost all of his damage in the first half (28 points, 6 rebs) and finished with 30/12/4 on 8/22 shooting plus 13/13 from the stripe. Rose carried the load after that.

T.J. Warren led the Suns with 21 points. Devin Booker and Kelly Oubre Jr. both had 18. The Wolves did not defend well as a group.

A win is good. We’ve probably all watched more than enough losses to get too upset with one. But this game felt like the opposite of a moral victory. They won by the slimmest of margins as heavy favorites at home. It took everything an injury-plagued Rose had to offer on the offensive end to stave off embarrassment; he bailed them out with a scoring surge and clutch iso jumper.

A narrow 116-114 win just doesn’t feel like something to get all that excited about. Let’s discuss why real quick.

Rose saved the day! Great. What does that mean for the future? Taj Gibson stepped up! Awesome. What does that mean for the future? Both vets are soon to be free agents and only came to Minnesota because Tom Thibodeau was running the show.

Other than Towns, Rose, and Gibson (17 points, 5 rebounds in almost 24 minutes), nobody had a performance to feel good about. Jeff Teague tried to play with an undisclosed illness before leaving the game sick after logging 23 minutes. His 8 assists were helpful. Andrew Wiggins played 40 minutes of forgettable basketball loaded with bricks (10 points on 14 shots; no assists, steals, or blocks; he did have 6 rebounds!). Josh Okogie was out of control in 11 minutes. Tolliver hit one three and will probably be gone with plenty of other players—including Jerryd Bayless who was playing alongside Rose during crunch time—before we know it. Gorgui Dieng had two fouls in 3 minutes. Dario Saric made a few big shots but still isn’t playing with much confidence off the bench.

This was against the DAMN! Phoenix Suns. It’s the latest reminder of how much further the franchise still has to go to become a legitimate threat and how much still stands in the way.

With Robert Covington and Tyus Jones on the sidelines, as they both nurse injuries, the team will continue to be both unpredictable and frustrating and certainly not good enough to look past any opponent, which for some reason they still seem to do. And even with RoCo and Jones, they still have obvious problems. At the forefront of those problems is Mr. Wiggins, as he has been for long enough. Yet again he was nowhere to be found.

The Wolves could barely beat a terrible Suns team playing on a back-to-back and the only reason they avoided another seriously deflating loss (see what happened in Philadelphia), is because Rose decided to take over as the #1 scoring option while everyone else stood around and watched.

Postgame Wolves Quotes

Interim Head Coach Ryan Saunders

On the final play:

“Derrick [Rose] had it going, especially in that fourth quarter. Put the ball in his hands and let him make a play. I knew I had another timeout so that’s the reason we didn’t advance it, we didn’t want them to switch off the inbounder, something like that in the halfcourt. We thought trying to get the last shot too that would work in our favor by bringing it up the court.”

On Rose’s game:

“He was great. He got to his spots, he got it going. He gave us a huge boost. Obviously, he played heavy minutes all at once, so he was really good. We needed all of it tonight.”

On the slow start:

“We’re planning on being better the next game with that. Sometimes these games are challenging in terms of not looking at the things that might be stacked against another team … injuries, things like that. We’ve got to get better as a group, as a whole in terms of coming out and not digging ourselves a hole.”

On Towns’ being less emotional on the court:

“We’ve had a number of conversations in the last couple of days as we usually do, and yeah we did speak on it, but that’s all him though. That was him being able to keep his cool … it was big for us.”

Derrick Rose

On the last play:

“It was all up to my teammates and the coaches for giving me that confidence, putting the ball in my hands and just believing in me. That’s what it was all about.”

On returning to play after his injury:

“It’s my second game back after my injury. I was dealing with trying to balance my body, my heel, my ankles. I’m not at 100%. I’m getting there, but I’m loving the shots that I’m getting and the shots that I miss, I’m just missing because I’ve just got to get a rhythm. Like I said, I’m not going to stop shooting them but I love the way we fought tonight.”

On the slow start:

“Like I said, it’s all about just playing my game. Not rushing anything in the first half. KAT had everything going and I was just trying to take my time. Second game back, just got to figure things out on the go.”

Taj Gibson

On stripping Booker on the drive:

“Throughout the year we always preach showing my hands, being long and trying to help from the corners and I was just trying to make a play on the ball and I was able to do that.”

On Phoenix’s play:

“It was tough because they have so many different guys that haven’t played most of the year, so they come in the game and just having the will to go out and play. In the NBA, everybody’s talented and everybody is going to put up shots but from the early part of the game they were being comfortable and it was hard trying to slow them down. We’ve got to do a better job.”

On his confidence in Rose to take the final shot:

“I always have the utmost confidence in whoever we’re going to give the last second shot to, but he needed that shot. He’s been putting so much work in. We’ve been in that situation a couple times this year and it didn’t go his way, so he was so frustrated and pissed off the way he missed the foul shot. I told him, I kept saying, ‘You’re going to get another shot. We’re going to get a stop.’ And the positivity and atmosphere just really helped that shot and it went in.”