The Wolves suffered their sixth straight loss tonight, dropping a 127-116 decision to the Utah Jazz at Target Center. The Jazz took control in the third quarter, and the Wolves never really challenged in the second half.
It was the same old story with the Wolves unable to consistently get stops against a Jazz team that came in struggling badly. In the first half, the Wolves largely gave up the shots they wanted to: mid range, off the dribble attempts, but unfortunately the Jazz were making them. Donovan Mitchell and Joe Ingles did much of the first half damage, both of them scoring on an array of runners and floaters.
The Wolves hung in during the first half largely thanks to a monster scoring effort from Jeff Teague, who had 22 of his 32 in the first. This is the second time in recent games that Teague has gone off; It has not, however led to Wolves wins.
In the third quarter, the Jazz got hot from three, and while the Wolves were able to keep up for a few minutes, eventually the Jazz pulled away and took a 14 point lead into the fourth quarter. They more or less cruised to the win from there.
A huge problem for the Jazz coming into the game was the play of their bench, but right now the Wolves are good for what ails opponents. All four Jazz reserves were at least a +12 tonight, and they combined to shoot 11-17 from the floor including 7-11 from three. When the likes of Jeff Green, Emmanuel Mudiay, and Georges Niang are hurting you, things are not going well.
It was another undisciplined defensive effort for the Wolves, especially in the second half, as their frustration led to players consistently out of position, which allowed the Jazz to swing the ball until they found an open shot, which they did on most of their possessions.
Karl-Anthony Towns in particular struggled on both ends tonight. He shot only 6-15 from the field and 2-9 from three, and committed some poor turnovers. He was clearly frustrated, and it showed on both ends. The Wolves simply cannot win when he plays poorly, which he did tonight.
The truth is, there are no clear answers for this team. Their defensive lapses appear to be worsening after a relatively strong start to the season on that end of the floor. They are not a good enough shooting team to be a consistently good offense. Despite having more offensive rebounds and fewer turnovers, they were not particularly close in this one due to the shooting disparity. They need Towns to play like an All-NBA and for the defense to tighten up again if they want to get back on the winning track.
Things don’t get much easier with the Clippers coming to town on Friday.