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Wizards 135, Wolves 121: Defenseless Wolves Drop Third Straight

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Minnesota’s lazy, sloppy play produced a third loss in as many games

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Washington Wizards Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

If you spent your Sunday evening watching the Wolves in Washington, I feel for you. I did so hoping to cure my Sunday Scaries, but the Wolves were no help at all.

The Wolves end their Eastern Conference road trip 0-3, surrendering a minimum of 122 points in all three games. The putrid defense started early tonight as the Wizards scored 40 points in the first frame.

There were so many players at fault for the defensive struggles. You don’t give up that many points unless the entire team is playing poorly. With that said, Andrew Wiggins and Jeff Teague were particularly horrendous on that end of the floor.

Wiggins got caught sleeping off the ball several times when guarding Bradley Beal. I don’t pretend to be a defensive guru by any means, but I’m pretty sure you need to pay attention when guarding the opposition’s best player. Teague was mostly just too small to guard anyone on the floor. Washington’s starting lineup features a large lead guard in Tomas Satoransky, and it was a rough matchup for Teague.

Offensively, the Wolves were much better, largely because Karl-Anthony Towns is on their team. Towns had 28 points on 18 shots to go along with 10 boards and 7 assists. He was especially dominant in the first half, and he even showed some point-of-attack playmaking ability that he has not shown a ton of to this point.

Saric started the game by bullying Washington in the post. He’s such a great fit next to Towns. His shooting leaves room for Towns to play in the post, while his cutting off of said Towns post-ups gives KAT a place to go when the doubles come.

One would hope that this was the last game Minnesota will play without Robert Covington. His absence was painfully obvious as Josh Okogie looked like a rookie tonight. He was only able to play 16 minutes due to constant foul trouble. I love Okogie. Maybe he’ll be a starter-level player someday, but for now, this sums him up pretty well.

The point guard play tonight was also putrid. Jeff Teague is clearly a talented guy, but man oh man, he makes me want to throw my remote through my television. He just dribbles aimlessly for 15 seconds way too often. The frequency with which he looks off an open Karl-Anthony Towns on the three-point line is maddening. Give KAT the damn ball.

While Teague was frustrating tonight, Tyus was relatively ineffective in his time on the floor. He played 18 minutes, contributing 4/3/2. Meh. Rose was putting the ball in the basket, but he was doing so rather inefficiently. He finished with 18 points, but it required 17 FGA to get there. It’s hard to blame him for shooting when there are no other creators on the floor, but it would be nice to have him create for others a bit more.

In general, this game was a constant reminder of where the Wolves are in the NBA landscape. Without Robert Covington, this is a bad basketball team with a generational talent. KAT can keep them in a lot of games with his offensive prowess, but that’s about it. There truly is just not enough talent on this roster to win, and Towns is far too good for them to tank. That’s not where anyone wants to be, but without massive changes in the organization, it’s where they’ll be until KAT asks out.

Yeah, I doubt that anyone still was holding out hope after the previous two losses, but the Wolves playoff hopes are gone. Their schedule gave them an opportunity, and they lost all three winnable games.

A few notes...

  • The defense in general was terrible, but the poor defensive rebounding in particular was the real killer tonight. The Wolves gave up roughly 200 second chance points tonight, which is not a winning recipe.
  • Math has always been an enemy of the Minnesota Timberwolves. They have an infatuation with long twos. They only attempted 27 threes and worsened that by making just 3 of them. I get that it’s not a more efficient shot if you can’t make them, but still. One way or the other, this team needs to figure out how to utilize the three-point line in a way that so many other teams have.
  • Cam Reynolds made his debut at the end of the game tonight and scored his first career basket. I genuinely don’t know how he’d hold up on defense, but you’d have to think the Wolves could’ve used his shooting tonight when they couldn’t make a three.
  • I know everyone loves Ryan Saunders, but I don’t know. I don’t want to harp too much in a tough situation, but this team hasn’t looked all that great under him. Specifically, the defense has been atrocious. If he’s going to be the guy moving forward (spoiler: he will be), he needs a defensive specialist as one of his top assistants. He’s proved that he can get the Wolves to score, but the defense needs a lot of work.