Inexcusable. Embarrassing. Laughable. Frustrating.
If tasked, I am not sure which word I would pick to describe this Minnesota Timberwolves game against the Atlanta Hawks at State Farm Arena. What started out as an offensive show for both teams ended as the Wolves blew a double digit lead and ended up losing by double digits.
The Wolves came out firing in the first quarter and showed the first real positive signs for this teams offense. While much of the early offense was simply hitting outside shots, it was a welcomed sight after the first two outing this season. As encouraging as that was, it did not seem sustainable for the entirety of a game.
Wolves are shooting well, but they haven’t had to run any serious offense yet.— Brendan Hedtke (@B_HedtkeNBA) October 30, 2023
But not sure if they will have to do that in this game
If the Wolves were to go on to win this game, there would have needed to be a good mix of ball movement, cutting, and floor spacing to get it done. Atlanta was hot itself as the first frame ended 42-35 with the Wolves on top.
The second quarter ended up being exactly what the doctor ordered. The Wolves’ offense continued with glancing blow after glancing blow to the Hawks’ defense. Only now, that offense was coming from cuts, pick-and-roll actions, and ball movement. Everything seemed to be going the Wolves way in the quarter. Karl-Anthony Towns was receiving under-handed scoop passes from Rudy Gobert, the shots from deep were still going down, and Shake Milton was showing his first signs of life this season. Most notably, Rudy Gobert was playing like his old Utah Jazz self.
Rudy Gobert has had a great start to the season pic.twitter.com/6KcKB91S3W— Dane Moore (@DaneMooreNBA) October 31, 2023
At the break, the Wolves were showing the world that they were better than the Hawks, and convincingly so. The score was 79-60 and the Wolves win probability sat at 95.2%.
But, as we as Wolves fans know, there is no feat this team can’t accomplish.
The Wolves failed to surpass 20 points in either of the final two frames, finishing the third and fourth quarters with a whopping 19 and 15 points, respectively. Meanwhile, the Hawks - led by a blazing hot Dejounte Murray - came to life and scored 38 points in the third quarter, 21 of which coming from Murray, who was 8-for-8 from the field in the frame.
Jaden McDaniels was seemingly on a minutes restriction and was unable to guard Murray for much of his outburst, which led to Nickeil Alexander-Walker receiving the onslaught from an unconscious Murray.
Regardless of an effective quarter for Murray, the Timberwolves should have been able to weather the storm with a 19 point cushion coming into the third. But the immaturity of this team persevered and isolation heavy, movement absent, and emotionally unintelligent offense became the staple, much like it was in the season opener against Toronto. The Wolves blew the entirety of their lead in a 12-minute span, leading to a tied score going into the fourth.
The final quarter was much of the same. Minnesota continued to make poor decisions, which led to rushed and missed open shots, turnovers, and lackadaisical defense. Atlanta steamrolled the Wolves in the fourth and cruised to a 14-point victory, on the second night of a back to back, nonetheless.
NBA teams have scored 79 or more first-half points 229 times in history. None has ever finished the game with fewer points than the Timberwolves' 113 tonight. Beats the 1991-92 76ers' previous mark of 114.— Zack Pierce (@ZPathletic) October 31, 2023
What do you have next for us, sports gods?
The Timberwolves need to find out why they continue to fall back into their old ways when the going gets even a little rough. They need better decision making from their star players (Edwards & Towns), better calming presences from their veterans (Conley & Anderson), and, frankly, more effective coaching from Chris Finch.
This team is too talented, has too many veteran leaders, and too smart of a coach to continue to produce such horrible offensive outings.
The Wolves have to figure out why this type of falling apart is in their DNA.— Dane Moore (@DaneMooreNBA) October 31, 2023
The team is talented, and it is only 3 games into the season, so it is not time to pound the alarm just yet. But if this team is to be seriously considered as one of the best in the entire league, as I believe they can be, they need to figure out how to stay poised and consistent. Until that happens, they’re going to have a rough go of things.
On a much lighter note, Jaden McDaniels made his season debut tonight. He looked very solid in his 24 minutes of action. He was 3-for-4 from 2 and 2-for-2 from 3 on the night, leading to 12 points. He added 3 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 block to his score card.
Shake Milton finally showed what he can provide for this team. He finished with 10 points on 2-for-4 from two point range and 2-for-2 from three.
Gobert continues to look the healthiest that he has since coming to Minnesota. He was catching lobs, knocking down free throws, blocking shots, and dominating the boards in this one.
Also, this Naz slam off the KAT lob was NASTY...
The Wolves will come home to face the defending champion Denver Nuggets at 7 PM CT on Wednesday night. If the Wolves want to prove that they are a serious team, a win against the Nuggets would go a long way, who will be playing third game in four nights.