It’s late and I’m tired, but at least the Wolves kept me relatively engaged with their effort tonight. It wasn’t enough, however, as they fell to the Blazers in Portland, 113-106, extending their losing streak to 10 games.
It was a lively start, with both teams getting up and down the floor early. The Wolves rode a hot Andrew Wiggins in the opening minutes, while the Blazers were all over the glass to establish a small lead despite poor shooting.
That trend would continue more or less throughout the night: The Wolves out shot the Blazers percentage wise from the field, from three, and from the free throw line, but turnovers and especially rebounding killed them.
The Blazers maintained a lead throughout most of the game, despite several runs from the Wolves. A late third quarter explosion from Jeff Teague that culminated with a buzzer beating three point runner got the Wolves within three heading into the final frame, The Wolves actually tied the game with six minutes left on a Shabazz Napier three, but the Blazers went on a mini-run after that and the Wolves could never catch up.
While the Blazers’ star back court of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum combined for their usual 55, they struggled shooting it, going a combined 18-48. The real difference maker for the Blazers tonight was Hassan Whiteside, who absolutely dominated the paint, to the tune of 16 points, 22 rebounds, and seven blocked shots. Time and again he snuffed out Wolves drives, or grabbed an offensive rebound to extend a Blazers’ possession. The Wolves simply did not have an answer for Whiteside, who finished off his night scoring a put back with 40 seconds left that made it a three possession game and essentially ended it.
The Wolves competed tonight and stayed in the game, but just lack the weapons to win most nights, especially without Towns available. Andrew Wiggins wound up with big numbers, starting the game hot and finishing it hot to wind up with 33 points.
They also got solid contributions from both their point guards, who each scored 18. As mentioned, Jeff Teague had a big run to end the third and start the fourth, and Shabazz Napier, who has entered the starting lineup at least for now, hit a bunch of big shots. But the Wolves got nothing from their wings other than Wiggins; Their young guys seem unready for prime time and Robert Covington had a very tough night.
That’s enough for a West Coast recap.
tl;dr: The Wolves are good enough.
What ya got?