Mavericks 128, Wolves 101: A Bad Response

Timberwolves Mavericks 0228 (15)

The Wolves came into last night’s brutal loss, all things considered, feeling pretty good.

They were fresh off a win from the night before against a New Orleans team they’ve (weirdly) struggled mightily with, and are winners of 5 of their last 9 games. For most teams, a 5-4 run isn’t anything to fawn over. For a young team with a rough winter record like the Wolves, it’s huge.

Last night’s game doesn’t, by any means, unravel the recent spurts of success the Wolves have had, but it has to hurt. It’s one thing to lose to a decent Western Conference opponent like the Mavericks, it’s another to give up an average of 32 points per quarter, all while shooting just 37 percent from the field yourself.

The Wolves were giving up easy looks all night, especially to Chandler Parsons, who had 29 points on 10-15 shooting, 4-7 from three, and was a ridiculous +31 on the night. Undoubtedly talented as Parsons is, the Wolves weren’t making his looks very difficult, like this play on the drive.

But, again, Parsons shot 4-7 from three. The Wolves have a history of not closing out three-point shooters with much urgency, and that was a common occurrence tonight, as the Mavericks jacked up 36 threes and shot nearly 40 percent from the field.

This wasn’t just a defensive issue, of course. Andrew Wiggins shot 5-14. Zach LaVine shot 3-14. The Wolves as a whole, minus the efficient scoring of Karl-Anthony Towns and (yes) Ricky Rubio, shot a combined 23-70 from the field. That’s 32 percent.

If you also take out Shabazz Muhammad, who had a good first half but a bad second half, the Wolves shot just 17-68 from the field. That’s 25 percent shooting for 6 of the 9 guys that suited up for Minnesota. That will never get you wins, even on a night when your team gives up less than 128 points.

It’s important to never look too closely at one game, and to keep everything in at least a sliver of perspective. Of course, it’s tough to do so when the game gets this bad, and the opponent’s victory cigar lineup is out and Dwight Powell is destroying rims.

So, yes, it’s absolutely important to take this game and try to figure out what went wrong. While enough threes were taken (23), too many non-threes were bad, forced looks, and weren’t built off looks that Ricky Rubio gave them. In other words, the offense wasn’t run to its full potential last night.

Defensively, the closeouts were bad. They let the lead get away from them, in large part, because the defense was about as bad as we’ve seen this year, from both the perimeter and in the paint.

But to look at it from the “hey, they’re young” lens is tedious, but probably still important. It’s still the second night of a back-to-back. They’re still a young team playing against a group of veterans. They’re on the tail end of a week-long road trip. Are these excuses for losing by 27? No, but ignoring it would avoid looking at the complete picture.

Last night’s loss was ugly. They’re now off until Wednesday, and they are off from practice today. How they respond from such a bad night might give us a better indication of how they’ll finish the season than the brutality that took place last night.

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4 Responsesso far.

  1. Mebert says:

    I understand that everything is for the future, and this year does not mean anything. I just want to enjoy watching a game though. I am not in Minnesota, so I don’t have every game available. 3 times I have been able to watch the Wolves, and all ended similar to this. I just want to enjoy watching them once this year. The future is great and all, but the point of being a sports fan is entertainment. I wish the Wolves could provide it just once when I am able to watch a game and enjoy myself. Last night I had some background noise while I cleaned the basement.

  2. gjk says:

    This seemed like a schedule loss. Dallas was so much more energetic and focused from the opening tip, and unlike the last time they played when Dallas’ terrible 3-point shooting kept the game close, they were hot. Teams that play fast and decisively have been a problem for the Wolves since Adelman retired, and it was worse last night with how they tried to combat the zone and small lineup. Eventually, they need a better balance of quick decision-makers and good physical skills and a coaching staff that demands passing and cutting in the system being run. They can’t just assume experience will bring that; everyone’s favorite Wolves hopeful comp, OKC, showed Saturday night how great talent can’t overcome another talented team that plays fast, decisively, and flexibly on both ends.

  3. pyrrol says:

    You could see this letdown coming like a train through a tunnel.

    Still, it hit even harder than expected. I don’t accept excuses for a 27 point loss (and giving up 128 points) like ‘it’s a schedule loss’ or ‘we’re young!” Our defense is not acceptable or professional. I was not able to stand watching this game much but it did bring two questions to my mind. Why do we seem incapable of defending the three point shot? And why can’t we run fast breaks and a quicker offense in general. Lumbering Dallas seems able to do this. On defense, we can’t guard the 3 point line, yet also give up an abnormal amount of easy lay-ups. All these flaws seem to be not improving and were on full display. To beat a dead horse, coaching may be a factor in answering these questions.

    Tyus had a tougher night, but I’m proud of him so far.

  4. pyrrol says:

    Forgot to give a shout out to Andre Miller who got signed on with the Spurs. I’ll be cheering for him!

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