The Minnesota Timberwolves were incredibly infuriating to watch in this one, but I'll be quite honest the player I almost want to blame for this loss? Ricky Rubio.
It's unfair to say that and it's altogether untrue, however he made some very poor decisions late in this one that aided the Wolves to the L. Rubio had a chance to hit a game winner as time expired and he drove to the right side of the floor and pulled up for a contested 17-footer as time expired, the result was as expected...a miss. It looked like hero ball to me and granted, no Wolves player could make shots in this one, the last person I want shooting the ball with the game on the line is Ricky Rubio. He then continued to shoot the ball in overtime and continued to miss, forcing Adelman to pull him (and put in Shved) with just over 1:40 to play.
Rubio would finish the night with 5 points on 2-of-12 shooting and 1-of-2 from the line. He also added 5 rebounds, 10 assists & 4 steals--but had another rough night controlling the basketball and had 6 turnovers (as well as 4 fouls).
As I said, it's unfair to blame Rubio for the loss, because this was certainly a team effort in losing to the last place Phoenix Suns. While Derrick Williams was Minnesota's best player in this one, he also went 3-for-10 at the line. The Wolves missed 9 shots at the line, Derrick missed 7 of those.
The Wolves shot just 36.8% in the first quarter (7-19). I prayed the worst was over, but then the Wolves came out and hit just 6 more shots in the second quarter, while attempting 25. That's 24%! By halftime they were shooting 29.5% as a team! By halftime the Wolves found themselves trailing Phoenix by 14. The Suns were able to stretch that lead to 18 at one point in the first half, which apparently caused the Wolves to start jacking up three-pointers. After going 1-for-2 in the first quarter, the Wolves hoisted and missed 8 threes in the second quarter.
I'm uncertain why I didn't turn the game off at that point. Ultimately I ended up doing a word find for the majority of the third quarter as I wanted this misery to be over. Not just tonight, but this entire Wolves season.
The promise and hope that was instilled in Wolves fans this offseason has been completely extinguished at this point as the "Basketball Gods" have made it abundantly clear: "Timberwolves, You Can't Have Nice Things!" Not only did the Wolves lose to the Western Conference's worst team, they also lost Andrei Kirilenko to another injury. This time it's a left calf strain and depending on the severity he could be out a few days all the way up to weeks. We should know more tomorrow, but it's yet another slap in the face for Wolves fans.
I hate to be so pessimistic and negative because I rarely am when it comes to the Wolves, but tonight's loss and the team's performance is just really frustrating. All in all I'll still be watching them on Thursday night when they take on the Lakers.
With the Wolves down by 18 in this one they could've easily packed it in, but they fought back and outscored the Suns 18-11 in the third quater and 26-19 in the fourth. Thanks in large part to J.J. Barea, the Wolves were able to tie the game at 71 late in the fourth. 12 of J.J.'s 16 total points came in that fourth quarter. However his confidence apparently was a little too high and the last few minutes of the fourth quarter he continued to jack up all kinds of awful, awful shots. Which included a step back, fadeaway 27-foot three pointer as he was double teamed and had a wide-open Dante Cunningham for a mid-range jumper!
The Wolves had a chance to win the game with under 10 seconds to play. Ricky Rubio inexplicably walked the ball up the court and then heaved up a contested mid-range jumper to send the game into OT.
OT came and fortunately, Wes Johnson was on the floor for the entire five minutes for Phoenix. He continued to throw up shot after shot....and....miss, shot after shot! Despite Wes' attempt to hand his former team the win, the Wolves decided that they didn't really want to hit any shot, even the most basic. The most frustrating sequence came on a Derrick Williams drive instead of going hard to the hole and either finishing or drawing the foul, he jumped into the air as he was five-feet from the basket, saw he was surrounded by Phoenix defenders and attempted a pass directly into the hands of said Phoenix players.
Despite all their terrible play, the Wolves found themselves down just one point and less than 15 seconds on the clock. Alexey Shved got the ball, drove the lane and missed a layup. On the replay of that last shot, it appears that a Phoenix Suns player slaps the backboard which should've been an automatic goaltending call. It wasn't called, Marcus Morris rebounded the ball and was instantly fouled by J.J. Barea. He went to the line with just 0.5 seconds to play, missed both his free throws and that was the ballgame.
Derrick Williams played a season-high 40 minutes (his last game in Golden State was his previous season-high of 38). He also added a team-high 21 points to go along with 12 rebounds, 2 steals and 1 block. He shot 8-of-16 from the field, 2-of-6 from deep and was actually pretty fun to watch out there. Unfortunately that 3-for-10 at the line, puts a big damper on an otherwise stellar night. Pekovic added 18 points, 12 rebounds, 2 assists, a season-high and career-tying 3 steals and 3 blocks in 40 minutes of action. J.J. Barea finished with 16 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists and shot 7-17 FG and 2-7 3PT in 28 minutes off the bench.
The Suns were led by a trio of 14-point scorers. Marcin Gortat finished with 14 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals and 3 blocks. Markieff Morris fouled out late in the fourth, but contributed 14 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists & 3 blocks in 32 minutes off the bench. Former Wolf Wes Johnson finished just 6-of-16 from the field, but still had a career-night with 14 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals. He also hit 2 of 4 three attempts and played 36 minutes off the bench. 34-year-old Jermaine O'Neal turned back the clock in this one and was ultra-impressive--especially in the first half. He finished with 10 points, 13 rebounds and 4 blocks in 26 minutes off the bench. However, by halftime he already had 8 points, 9 rebounds and 3 blocks!
The Wolves' 34.4% field goal shooting is a new season-worst (beating out the previous-low by 0.1%). They did have the second-most steals of the season, however, finishing with 14. The Suns' 40 defensive rebounds ties a season-best for a Wolves opponent while their 56 total is the second-best of the season. Their 5 made free throws and 35.7% shooting at the line are also two season-lows for a Wolves opponent.
The Wolves are now losers of three-straight as they'll look to turn things around when they visit Staples Center to take on the Lakers on Thursday night. Stay tuned for the gameday preview of that one, until then thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!