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Hawks 108, Timberwolves 97: Case of the Mondays

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It was an ugly matinee showing by a battered Wolves team.

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Atlanta Hawks Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Martin Luther King Jr. Day has always been one of my favorite holidays ever since I was kid. My textbooks never taught me much about MLK Jr., but I knew that at the end of each January, we’d get the day off from school and I’d be able to watch NBA basketball all day. Two years later, the tradition of binging basketball all day has continued. However I’m odler now and my work includes supporting young African American students in college. I’ve studied the history of African Americans in our society and clearly understand and appreciate why we have this day to celebrate all that Dr. King has done. This day is no longer just about zoning out and relaxing all day, but more for reflection and appreciation. I urge you all to think about what you have done, are doing, and can do to help the Black community around you.

Now hoops.

I wasn’t hopeful coming into this game. Aside from the fact that the Minnesota Timberwolves missing several players, the Atlanta Hawks were basically preordained by The Pope himself.

The way the game began set the tone for how the next couple hours would go. Sloppy play. Turnovers galore. Both teams did not play with any sense of urgency. Yippee. I still had some hope early in the game though. The Wolves started Josh Okogie and Jarred Vanderbilt! That hope even grew once I saw Jordan McLaughlin and Jaden McDaniels getting early 1st quarter minutes.

Early excitement was all I was going to get though.

JaMac would sink his first shot attempt (A three-pointer) to help the Wolves gain an early, albeit brief lead, but that was about as much as he would offer. JoMac on the other hand seemed mostly lost out there. From there, the Hawks would sleepwalk to a 10-point lead.

Perhaps the best way to sum up the entire first half?

Noonball.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with that term “noonball,” check out the very official Merriam-Webster definition below:

I hope some of you learned something from that because that first half of “NBA basketball” surely did not teach us anything.

The second half? The Wolves started down 7, but would score 7 in a row to tie things up while sending Trae Young to be bench with foul trouble. The Hawks decided they didn’t like that start, so they pressed rewind by scored 7 in a row, reopening that very same lead. At this point, the Wolves pulled their favorite move: Laying down and getting into fetal position.

There was pretty much 0 notable Wolves highlights in that period, or the game for that matter. Their best plays were on defense when they forced the Hawks into turnovers when the Hawks simply fumbled the ball away with no credit to the defense at all. The Wolves still somehow only trailed by 7 heading into the final period, but it was more of the same there. I’d like to call their play “an empty threat.”

The Hawks bench were often seen laughing and just lounging around the entire game. As was often the case for opponents this season, they didn’t take the game seriously and laughed their way to a win. It’ll be easy for players and coaches to point fingers right now. Early tip. Late (for some reason) travel schedule. Missing players. Youth. Tough opponents. But at the end of the day, we just suck.

Game notes:

  • Did we get Good D’Lo tonight or BDLO tonight? I couldn’t tell. He made some good plays, some bad plays, but overall didn’t really impact the outcome of the game. Yes, he had a 31/4/7, 4 stock line on efficient shooting, but he also played with his signature snail’s pace at the end of the game when we needed to speed it up. Not great for someone on a max contract. Perhaps the play below was the most fired up he got all afternoon:
  • I didn’t get a FSN feed today, but Vince Carter and the Hawks team pointed out something that I think bore some truth: Many of the Wolves players (Edwards, Okogie, Culver) who had Georgian connections and family/friends in attendance appeared to play rushed. It was an rough day for all 3 of those guys.
  • Ant is still missing whatever confidence he had at the beginning of the season. Yes, I’m sure there’s been some adjustments by the opponents to wall up in the paint, but he still seems shaken. There were some moments today where he flashed his playmaking and defensive chops however he was still mostly invisible tonight. Again. He finished with a 12/5/2 line and tied Beasley with a team-high +5.
  • Not signing Jordan McLaughlin before training camp began was probably a big mistake. He looks understandably rusty and was making some very un-JMac-like decisions. He looked mostly like his -15.
  • Was this the beginning and end of the VandOkogie experiment? They started off the game decently, but finished with team worsts -17 and -16 respectively. It was somewhat refreshing to see their energy out there, but unfortunately it was misguided tonight. They, and Naz, completely failed to contain the Hawks bigs. Clint Capela and John Collins controlled the paint on both ends, finishing with a combined 22 rebounds and 38 points on 16/24 shooting.
  • Coach Ryan Saunders will continue to get a pass no matter what the product is on the court. I cited some of the potential excuses that we’ll continue to hear all season, but at what point will he need to be held accountable? Or the rest of the coaching staff for that matter. I really fail to believe that this Wolves roster would perform at this level if it was coached by a Quin Snyder, or Erik Spoelstra, or even a Taylor Jenkins.
  • I got nothin’.