Had the Minnesota Timberwolves played even semi-decent defense in the first half, they wouldn't have found themselves in the situation they did on Monday night.
The Mavericks scored 62 points in the first half on exactly 60% shooting from the field. The Mavs also had 21 first half assists on 27 made field goals. The TWolves shot just 44.7% from the field and turned the ball over 13 times for 15 Maverick points. At the half, J.J. had 4 turnovers & Martin added 3. Shawn Marion scored 21 of his 32 in the first half. His previous season-high was 21 and the 32 points he finished with is a new high for him as a Dallas Maverick.
The Wolves started the second half a bit slow thanks to a lot of open misses (particularly from Martin). The Mavericks built a 21-point lead early in the third quarter however by the time the third quarter buzzer sounded the game was all tied at 81. That was thanks in large part to big plays from all five starters. Brewer led the charge scoring 11 of his 16 in that third quarter.
It was back-and-forth throughout the entire fourth quarter, but we'll just fast forward to the final 3 seconds, because that's all anyone will ever discuss when it comes to this game.
With 3 seconds to go, the Timberwolves had the ball with a sideline inbounds. The Mavs had a foul to give on the previous possession and Calderon did foul Rubio to set up the sideline out-of-bounds. The Wolves inbounded the ball to Kevin Love who dribbled to the right and attempted to put up a three-pointer as time expired for the win. Love's foot may have been on the line, but that's the least of concerns. All the controversy came on a 'no-call' where it looks as though Marion basically hooks Love's arm completely and the ball pops out of his hands as time expires with no whistle.
In real time it looked like a terrible 'no-call' and an atrocity. Then, I watched the 'Phantom Cam' angle at least forty times and came to the conclusion that it may not have been a foul... Here's that footage for you to make the call yourself courtesy of @cjzero: PhantomCamLoveArmMarionHit. I would recommend zooming in close and watching a few dozen times.
Technically the rule in the NBA is if you hit a shooter on the hand, that's legal. From the replay, it doesn't look as though Marion hits his arm, but gets all hand/ball. That being said, in real time it looked 100% like a foul and I'm actually pretty stunned that there was no whistle.
I got flashbacks of Kobe Bryant fouling Ricky Rubio as time expired on a half-court heave that would've sent the game to overtime. Being that it was Bryant, there was no whistle and the Wolves lost. A few days later the NBA came out with an 'apology' saying the refs missed the call.
Ultimately (and a lot of Wolves fans will disagree with me) I don't think it was a foul, however from the angles of both of the referees in that replay, I don't see how they couldn't have whistled a foul. From those angles it had to look like Marion was hammering Love's arm. So despite watching the replay over and over and over myself and coming to the conclusion that it wasn't a foul, I think it still should have been whistled so...if that makes any sense.
Tonight's box score...
Five points off the bench. Five. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Uno, Dos, Tres, Cuatro, Cinco. That's HORRIBLE! It's no wonder the Wolves can't be competitive, they've got terrible offensive reserves. Barea scored all of those 5 points, while the rest of the reserves went a combined 0-for-8. You've got two defenders in Mbah a Moute & Cunningham that can rarely get hot and knock down some jumpers and contribute some hustle buckets and then your other two reserves are players that have the skill set to contribute offensively, but can never get anything done (Shved & Hummel). I missed the first quarter and part of the second quarter, so I didn't see Shved tonight, but Hummel missed two pretty wide open corner three-pointers (a shot I don't think I've seen him make this season--though I've seen him take at least 7 or 8). The Wolves DESPERATELY need Chase Budinger back, the problem is, when he does finally return it will probably take at least a month for him to return to half the player he was--we saw that first hand last season when he was rehabbing from the same injury. If the Wolves ever want to even say the word playoffs without a tinge of sarcasm, they need something other than what they're getting from their second unit!
Beyond that, the Wolves buried themselves with those 13 first half turnovers. They finished with 18 on the night, but had they cut their first half totals in half, there wouldn't have been any controversy in the final seconds because we would have secured a lead and ultimately a win by then.
With each and every incredible game that Love produces and the subsequent loss that seems to be following, I get more and more worried that we'll hear him becoming increasingly frustrated in Minnesota and want out. I honestly don't think he should be asked to do more (though, it's amazing to think he's probably capable). Other players need to step up and the entire team needs to commit to playing for 48 minutes. If not, we'll continue to see this team piss away Love's superb performances night in and night out en-route to another lotto-bound summer (where we wouldn't have a pick anyway).
That's all for now, the Wolves are back in action on Wednesday night vs. the New Orleans Pelicans in their first meeting of the season. Thanks for reading HOWL and C'MON MALLOY!
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!