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Pelicans 107, Wolves 99: No KAT, Mo’ Problems

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It has now been 35 days since the home team has secured a victory at Target Center.

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Minnesota Timberwolves Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

When the NBA schedule was announced earlier this summer, a December home game against the New Orleans Pelicans was one that many people circled on their calendars. After all, what more could you ask for on a winter Wednesday then Zion Williamson vs. Karl-Anthony Towns?

Fast forward to said winter Wednesday, and the answer to the question above was “a lot, actually.”

Facing off against a Pelicans team that had lost their last THIRTEEN straight games, including an overtime loss to the Brooklyn Nets less than 24 hours earlier, the Wolves somehow still found a way to look lifeless, disinterested, and thoroughly incompetent Wednesday night. Yes, the Wolves were missing their own superstar big man (Towns missed the game due to a left knee sprain), but considering they had four days off prior to Wednesday’s matchup, there are very little excuses to be made for another embarrassing home performance.

Listen, this team [redacted] sucks right now. After losing to the Pelicans, the Wolves are now the sole owner of the league’s longest losing streak (8 games). Yes, the upcoming schedule is starting to “soften up” (only 4 of the Wolves next 13 opponents currently have a winning record), but how is that even applicable for a team that just got blown out at home by a team who (before tonight) had just 6 wins? The same 6-win team who, prior to Wednesday night, had given up an average of 121 points over their last 8 games, yet held the Wolves (on the road and coming off a back-to-back) to just under 100.

Simply put, things look extremely bleak right now (the bleakest they have looked since Gersson Rosas took over earlier this spring). If it wasn’t for Minnesota sprinting out of the gates in mid-October, we would be talking about the likelihood of this team capturing a top 3 lottery pick (and if we’re being honest, those early October wins still might not impede this current roster from achieving such a feat).

Overall, everything about this current situation resembles that of a dumpster fire — the new offensive “system” is getting derailed by a roster that simply can’t execute it, the defense is performing like a unit that lost David Vanterpool rather than gained him, and the overall effort/energy from the team resembles that of a group of college kids playing pick-up the morning after Halloween.

With all of that said, I never really had high hopes for this season. Anyone who follows this team closely (and a lot of you do) knew this roster was a SIGNIFICANT work in progress, one that wouldn’t be turned around in a mere couple of months. That’s fine. I can accept (another) rebuild around a franchise player. Hell, I’ve gotten this far by drinking the Kool-Aid, what’s a few more glasses?

But here’s the problem: everything that this new regime promised over the summer — creativity, player development, attention to detail — is simply just lip-service at this point. No, this current Wolves roster isn’t very good and yes, they possess less shooters than a gun range on Christmas. But why should that stop them from being creative? If you’re going to suck anyway, why not suck while force-feeding Jaylen Nowell 12-15 minutes a game and see if he can provide 1/10 of the offensive spark that another rookie (Kendrick Nunn) has done for Miami? How does a team that stressed attention to detail throughout training camp still find themselves in the bottom third of the league in FT%, turnovers, and defensive rating? How does a front office that preached player development continue to let expiring veterans like Jeff Teague pace the team in minutes and touches?

I don’t know... I still believe there are (much) better days ahead for this franchise, but it’s extremely evident that the honeymoon phase for the new regime is officially over. The Wolves were never expected to contend this season, but they were expected to be generally competitive (and fun to watch), and yet here we are in mid-December watching a team that gives as much effort on both sides of the floor as they did when Tom Thibodeau was stomping up and down in front of Glen Taylor. I honestly do believe things will get better, but I can’t promise that they won’t first get worse.

Full Game Highlights

Game Notes

  • Andrew Wiggins led the way for Minnesota tonight, scoring a team-high 27 points on 9-of-23 shooting. The 20+ point performance was Wiggins’ 18th 20-point game of the season and fourth straight.
  • As for the other gangly volume scorer on the floor, Brandon Ingram finished the night with a game-high 34 points, his sixth 30+ point game of the season. The former Laker tallied 25 points in the first half, which tied his career high for points in a half.
  • In addition to KAT, Jarrett Culver (illness) and Jake Layman (foot) were both sidelined due to their respective ailments. While Culver *could* be back as soon as Friday, it doesn’t appear like Layman will be suiting up anytime in the near future.
  • New Orleans outrebounded the Timberwolves tonight 55-43, the seventh time this season they eclipsed the 50+ rebound threshold this season.
  • Good news/bad news: with 27 more attempts Wednesday night, the Wolves are now third in the NBA in FTA per game (26.8). Sadly, they are only 19th in the NBA in FT% (76.4%).
  • If you’re a sucker for further punishment, here’s tonight’s box score.

On a more positive note, I have about 36 hours to find a White Elephant gift for under $20, so if you have any strong suggestions, please leave them in the comments below. 1,000 Canis points to the best idea.