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Raptors 86, Wolves 81: Yes, That Was the Final

An extremely fun third quarter was ruined once again by poor late-game execution.

Toronto Raptors v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images


It seems safe to say that the award for the worst game of the season goes to tonight’s Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Torampa (I’m workshopping it, but assuming it definitely won’t stick) Raptors game.

This game was an absolute travesty for everyone involved. The poor souls who sat through it will undoubtedly need therapy. Those of you still reading these words need to sit down and think about your life decisions. Don’t question me or call me a hypocrite for watching and writing about this game. That’s off-topic. Please stay focused.

I legitimately cannot remember watching a worse game of basketball in a long time, and I watch every single televised college game. Again, yes, I have a problem.

Tonight’s final score of 86-81 has been the score of many games midway through the third quarter this season. Both teams failed twice to break 20 points in a quarter. They combined to shoot 60-168 (35.7 percent) from the floor and 21-78 (26.9 percent) from three. They’re also a combined 32 turnovers.

The only shinning light tonight was Norman Powell, who scored 31 points on 52.6 percent shooting. However, he was involved in this travesty of a game, so his stats no longer count.

This game was something out of a torture manual from the start. The Timberwolves looked sluggish and uninterested from the tip. Their shot selection was appalling, misses were frequently short, passes were errant, and to call their defensive effort despicable would be putting it nicely.

There are plenty of games where shots just won’t fall. That was not the case tonight. The Timberwolves showed that they had zero interest in working on getting the best shot available. They were completely content with chucking contested threes early in the shot clock and then not hustling back on defense. Yet somehow, they went into halftime down only ten despite scoring 35 points.

Then the third quarter happened. The bench unit came on and didn’t necessarily play well, but they played hard, which is more than we can say about anyone else tonight. The Timberwolves closed the final 8:22 of the third quarter on a 23-1 run through pure effort and energy. Despite playing offensive basketball for 36 minutes, the Timberwolves somehow entered the fourth quarter with a 64-58 lead. Yes, the year is 2021, and somehow that score was possible.

The third quarter effort carried over, and the bench mob (with cameos from the occasional starter) held on to their lead. Then the Timberwolves continued to do Timberwolves’ things.

The lead quickly slipped away as the starters returned to the floor. The effort continued to be nonexistent. The shot selection hurt my soul. There was hero-ball (not in a good way) happening everywhere.

Tonight was the first time in weeks that this team legitimately looked like the league’s worst team. I want to toss it into the dumpster as a one-off, but it really feels like the incremental steps forward over the last couple of weeks were instantaneously dismantled by tonight’s games.

The coaching decisions were questionable down the stretch, but besides letting the bench unit close, what was Ryan Saunders supposed to do when his guys couldn’t hit the broadside of a barn? Even though the Timberwolves were in it until the final seconds, there is no world in which they deserved to win this game. In fact, winning this game would have felt like an unwarranted and unearned escape rope.

However, it is a Friday so let us attempt to enter the weekend with some positivity.


Watching freak athletes do freak-athlete things is one of the most enjoyable things about sports. It’s the gravity-defying, jaw-dropping, motor function disabling rarity we all can only dream of. It’s a feat we attempt to accomplish by lowering the rim in our driveway. We live vicariously through video game characters whose stats we have to enhance. It’s the go-to superpower everyone picks when asked: flying.

Anthony Edwards joined an elite class of dunks that have ruined careers. Vince Carter was an early pioneer with his international abuse of Fredric Weis. DeAndre Jordan dunked Brandon Knight into oblivion. There have been others through the years, but there was a new induction tonight. I’m sorry to say we may have seen the last of Yuta Watanabe.

In a wasteland of despair tonight, at least we were blessed with the glory of that dunk.

If you’ve made it this far, God bless you. Finish that bottle of wine or follow my lead and open the second. Heat up a slice of cold pizza. Take out that carton of ice cream. You’ve earned it. The good news is it can’t get worse than this (I hope).

Game Highlights