Minnesota didn't play like a team wanting to win this basketball game. They didn't even look like a team that was playing not to lose. They just seemed to be going through the motions and 100 times out of 100 that's a recipe for disaster.
The result is a loss to a team without one of their best players (Eric Bledsoe) in a game where you had numerous chances to get things going--AND in the final minutes to put the game away for good.
Late mistakes doomed the Wolves as they let the run-and-gun Suns easily erase a five-point lead in the final minutes.
With 40 seconds to play, the Wolves had the basketball and a 103-102 lead. For whatever reason they decided to let the clock run down before setting up a play with about 15 seconds to go on the shot clock. Love came up and set a pick and Rubio drove to the basket, but quickly found himself in trouble and attempted to dish a pass to an open Love. Rubio jumped up in the air to throw the pass and was off balance to boot. It travelled about two feet--right into the hands of big man Markieff Morris.
The Suns quickly raced up court, but Suns head coach opted to call a timeout with 16 seconds to play and the Wolves leading by one-point. The play Hornacek drew up was a high screen by Channing Frye on Rubio to get Dragic free. Dragic came off the pick but quickly met the Minnesota bigs down low. He attempted a bad pass that nearly went out of bounds, but Markieff was able to corral it and find Gerald Green who took the fadeaway jumper that found the bottom of the net to give his Suns a one-point lead with 3.9 seconds to go.
With 3.9 to go, the Wolves came out of a timeout and found Martin wide open on some low screen action and he quickly drove the lane and was hit a bit by P.J. Tucker (definitely not a foul call you'd make at that point), Martin's shot hit the front of the rim as time expired.
The worst part about a game like this, is the dreaded feeling that this game was decided because the Wolves lost it and not because the Suns lost it. The way these two teams played, no one really deserved to win--it was just an ugly game.
Nothing the Wolves did on offense through three quarters was good. It wasn't until a few possessions in the fourth quarter when Pek got going and Brewer nailed a couple jumpers that it seemed that the Wolves would be able to pull away for the W.
Instead it was one last run in the final minute by Phoenix that sealed one of the most disappointing losses of the year.
Let's take a look at the box score...
Love finished with a double-double: 15 & 12, but shot an awful 20% from the field & 20% from deep. Unfortunately, Love just couldn't get anything going--all night long. A 15 & 12 would be great for 90% of players in the NBA, but K-Love is a superstar in this League. There's no excuse for a 20% shooting night from one of the NBA's best.
Nikola Peković struggled (like most) in the first half (just 2 points at halftime), but he added 6 points in the third quarter and another 9 in the fourth. He went to work on Miles Plumlee (who fouled out late in the fourth quarter), but his 6-for-16 shooting (38% FG) is just as unacceptable.
Corey Brewer & Kevin Martin definitely led the Wolves in this one. Martin shot the same 6-for-16 as Pek (but there's a difference between a number of 15-25 foot jumpers from K-Mart as opposed to 3-foot bunny shots from Pek). Martin finished with a team-high 20 points, but all of those were scored in the first three quarters as he went scoreless in the final period.
Brewer went scoreless in the first half on 0-for-3 shooting. He went 6-for-7 in the second half where he scored all 15 of his points which included a couple of big shots in the final few minutes of the fourth quarter as the teams exchanged buckets. Couple that with his big block on Goran Dragic and Brewer definitely had a good game--the same can't be said for the majority of his teammates.
Tonight marked the season debut of Chase Budinger. After missing the first 34 games of the season, Chase swapped his sports coat & tie for the Wolves' green, white & blue. He finished with 6 points on 2-for-3 shooting (his lone miss coming on his first shot of the game--a corner three) 1 rebound & 1 steal. We watched it take plenty of time for him return to form a season ago after returning from the same injury--he's still on the road the recovery and you shouldn't expect him to explode for a 20 point game anytime soon. That being said--it's certainly nice to have a shooter who can actually hit shots coming off your bench.
The Wolves will be back in action against the Charlotte Bobcats on Friday night.