Before we get into the outcome of the game, a quick comment on the officiating. I’m very rarely, if ever, a “blame the officials” guy, and I still wouldn’t blame them for the way the game ended. There were numerous things the Wolves could have done better tonight, mainly on the defensive end. The referees didn’t give up 134 points. I understand the Wolves complain a lot. However, nobody pays hard earned money to see the officials take center stage, whether it’s at a Wolves game or anyone else.
With that in mind, it was absolutely ridiculous to throw Anthony Edwards out of this game in the third quarter, with the Timberwolves trailing by only two points. Granted, I don’t know exactly what he said, but to give two T’s in a matter of seconds is utterly ridiculous. That’s just not good officiating, and it happened another place tonight, as well. Here’s a nearly identical sequence for Jimmy Butler.
Jimmy Butler ejected after getting two technicals for arguing with ref. Wtf? pic.twitter.com/JA40errgmb— gifdsports (@gifdsports) January 20, 2022
Here’s what happened to Cade Cunningham on Sunday.
Cade was ejected after this dunk for pointing pic.twitter.com/MoUZvddWxw— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 16, 2022
Being an NBA referee is a hard job. It’s not this hard to keep yourselves from being the focal point of a game.
Anyways, on with the game.
As soon as Patrick Beverley left the game with an ankle injury, the nature of the game changed. Minnesota didn’t entirely give up the lead right away, as some hot shooting from D’Angelo Russell stabilized them, but eventually the dam broke. Without Beverley and Edwards, Trae Young went absolutely berserk with a 23 point third quarter. He finished with 37 points and 14 assists.
There was some incredible shot-making for sure, but Minnesota also offered zero resistance. Trae is uniquely suited to pick apart Minnesota’s aggressive defensive style, and he once again just did that.
It’s hard to talk too much about just how good Trae was, honestly. When he’s rolling the way he was in the third quarter, you’ve really got no chance. If you play him tight, he’s going to blow right past you and either score or find a lob partner. If you give him any space at all on the perimeter, he’s going to nail a three. He’s a one-man offensive wrecking crew.
On the Wolves side, it’s hard to say much positive. Atlanta appears to be the kryptonite for their defense. The defense was poor, and the offense couldn’t keep pace without Edwards and Beverley.
If anything, tonight showcased once again how shallow this roster still is. The bench has had its moments, but the loss of Beverley flipped the entire script of this game and Minnesota wasn’t able to make up for that. That’s why there are moves to be made over the next month.
As disappointing as tonight was, the Wolves can live with a split on this back-to-back. The frustrating part is that they absolutely could have came away from this 2-0 and over .500, but end of the day, a split is ... acceptable.
It wasn’t a fun night in Atlanta, but thankfully for Beverley Minnesota has three days off now, not playing again until they host Brooklyn on Sunday.