Shades of 2012-13 reared their ugly heads tonight in Washington. It was the same record spinning as the Wolves blew another double-digit lead and let a lesser team back into the contest.
The result tonight was a four-point loss--despite the Wolves leading by as many as 16 in this one! It was a poor shooting night from Kevin Martin, some poor transition defense and some late misses from the free throw line for the team that doomed Minnesota in this one.
This is the first time the Wolves have blown a double digit lead and lost this season, however if you watched even a handful of games these past couple years, you know it's really not a new problem, but rather a recurring one for this franchise.
Kevin Martin had his second-worst scoring night of the season tonight (the worst being vs. the Thunder in the second game of the year when he finished with just 9 points. Martin had 6 first quarter points, but shot 3-for-9 in the first half. During a stretch in the third quarter when the Wizards were on a furious rally to get back in the game, Kevin Martin went 0-for-4 from the field. K-Mart would add a triple and a couple free throws in the final quarter as the Wolves looked to eek out a win, but it just wasn't enough. There can and will be nights that guys like Martin & Love struggle--that just means someone else has to step up and unfortunately that didn't happen tonight.
Martin's three-pointer with 1:10 to play in the fourth quarter put the Wolves up by 1; 98-97. With Minnesota leading, Randy Wittman took a timeout and out of the timeout, the Wizards had incredible ball movement that eventually had John Wall go up for a mid-range jumper, but just as he went to release the ball he saw a wide open and hot handed Martell Webster wide open, he twisted and dished it to Marty who hit the 26-footer to give the Wizards the 98-100 lead.
On the ensuing possession, apparently the best look the Wolves could get was a turnaround, fadeaway Kevin Martin 15-footer that couldn't find bottom, Bradley Beal grabbed the board and the Wizards moved the ball up the court quickly, it eventually ended back up in Beal's hands and he was fouled. Unfortunately the Wizards were able to burn 13 seconds off the clock. Back to Martin's shot for a minute, however--I don't understand why the Wolves would go to the player that's having the worst shooting night out there. I guess you play the percentages and hope that he's missed so many that's there's no way he can keep missing, but there are so many other offensive weapons on this team, it's a little puzzling.
With 12 seconds to play, Beal stepped to the line and knocked them both down. The Wolves burned a timeout and out of the break in action they went to Kevin Love in the post for a hook shot--he missed it, but Corey Brewer had the offensive board fall right in his lap and he put it back up and in to make it a two-point game once again.
With just over 6 seconds to play, the Wizards inbounded it to Nene, who was fouled by Kevin Love. He nailed both of his free throws to seal the W. The Wolves would take one last timeout and draw up a three-pointer for Kevin Love. He missed it, but Brewer snagged another offensive board, dribbled out and fired up a three that missed as time expired and the Wolves lost their fifth game of the season.
Four of Minnesota's five losses have come on the road and in those four road losses the Wolves have lost each of them by four points or less! This team could actually be 11-1 if these close games would've tipped in their favor! Unfortunately the Wolves move to 7-5 on the season and will have to rebound quickly as they'll have the Clippers awaiting them at the Target Center for their matchup tomorrow night!
Let's take a look at tonight's box score...
It was a rough night for Kevin Martin and it was a rough night from the free-throw line. Minnesota's 66.7% from the free-throw line is most definitely a season-worst (the previous worst being 76.3% @New York on 11/3) and Washington's 100% from the line is a season-best for a Wolves opponent!
Minnesota is a team that clearly relies on that production from the line and tonight's poor shooting doomed them in this one. The Wolves were down 92-95 with just over 3:15 to play when Pek stepped to the line for two freebies--he subsequently missed them both. About 30 seconds later Kevin Love stepped to the line with the same score (Wolves down three) and went 1 for 2 from the line. That 1-for-4 effort came from two of Minnesota's better free throw shooters. Had they knocked them down it's a completely different ball game down the stretch!
Minnesota didn't take care of the ball in the second half either. The Wolves had just 3 turnovers at halftime (the Wizards scored 4 points off of them). One minute and fifteen seconds into the third quarter the Wolves turned it over three times to double their first half totals! Minnesota would finish with another 7 turnovers the rest of the way. Rubio was out there during that three-turnover minute and fifteen seconds, however when the game was on the line, Rubio was seated on the pine. Ricky played just 19 minutes as Adelman went with J.J. Barea down the stretch. Rick said after the game that Ricky had gotten in some early foul trouble and Barea had hit a couple shots in that fourth quarter. Basically Rick wanted to stick with the hot hands. Though, it was a little puzzling to me on the possession when the Wolves desperately needed a stop Rubio was still sitting (that possession was the one where former Wolf Webster drained that back-breaking triple).
I definitely expect these Wolves to come out more aggressive tomorrow night, but unfortunately it's not a game against the Celtics or the Jazz--the Wolves are going against the powerhouse Clippers that handed them a two-point loss just eight days ago! Everyone needs to step it up if the Wolves want a bounce back win. Tomorrow's game will tipoff at 7pmCT and we'll have a full gameday preview of that one up tomorrow afternoon, until then, thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!