That was, possibly, one of the worst defensive performances in recent memory for the Timberwolves. The Jazz entered the game with the 20th ranked offense, and notoriously struggle to score, especially outside of Donovan Mitchell.
The Wolves allowed the Jazz to shoot 54% from the field on their way to 125 points. The most troubling part was that the Jazz made 15 threes, with nearly all of them being wide open corner threes. I’m not a genius by any means, but I’m pretty certain that’s a recipe for disaster.
The wide open corner threes for the opposition is the norm the Timberwolves these days, and that’s arguably their largest issue. It was an issue when Thibs was manning the sidelines, and it has persisted since he was let go.
The corner threes are the end result of the Wolves horrid pick-and-roll and dribble drive defense. It is far too easy for teams with a good primary initiator like Donovan Mitchell to get easy looks from desirable spots on the floor. Ryan Saunders certainly has the deck stacked against him right now, but this is absolutely a coaching/philosophy issue and not a personnel issue.
What is really damning about this loss was that it wasted a lot of really good offensive performances.
For one, this was one of Andrew Wiggins best offensive games. He totaled 35 points on 13 of 23 from the field and 3 of 8 from beyond the arc. He attacked Rudy Gobert in the paint over and over again, and routinely came away victorious at the rim. It was an extremely impressive performance from Wiggins on that end of the floor.
Jerryd Bayless, Luol Deng, and Gorgui Dieng combined for 42 points on 9 made threes.
It is hugely disappointing that the Timberwolves got all of that production and weren’t able to win the game.
The one gripe I have with the Timberwolves offense tonight was the lack of Karl-Anthony Towns involvement in the second half. Towns posted an uber efficient 22 points on 6 of 10 from the field and 3 of 4 from the three-point line, but how does Towns only get 10 field goal attempts? I’m extremely appreciative of what Bayless has done, but there are no circumstances where he should have more field goal attempts than Towns like he did tonight (13 to 10).
Towns cooked Rudy Gobert repeatedly in the first half, but then Minnesota seemed to go away from him in the second half once they put Jae Crowder onto him. Towns finished with 7 assists, but he probably could’ve had much much more had they tried to post up KAT on that matchup. Part of that blame certainly goes to KAT, who needs to demand the basketball. Either way, it was disappointing to see the team go away from their superstar in general.
The loss, coupled with the Clippers victory today moves the Wolves to 4 games back of the 8th seed in the Western Conference. That’s not great.