Suns 107, Wolves 104: Not a Beauty

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There are only 4 teams in the NBA with records currently worse than the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Phoenix Suns, who came up winners tonight in wild fashion, are currently one of them.

Tonight’s game was, at many points, one where their weaknesses showed, often times appearing as success for the team that didn’t mess up. Whether it was a missed defensive assignment, a botched layup, or a guy being too late on an outlet pass (did you see Rubio’s face!?), both teams’ lack of successes showed on several occasions throughout the night.

Of course, good things happened tonight, and some players played really well. Ricky Rubio had 12 first half assists, and was a catalyst for positive things happening the entire night. Hell, I’ll say it: Rubio did everything well. He doesn’t apply to a lot of this post. Hell, just look at this pass. (shouts to CJ Fogler)

But other players did good things, as well. Zach LaVine was as in rhythm as we’ve seen him this year, as he continues to look more and more comfortable playing with Ricky Rubio. Andrew Wiggins finished extremely well around the rim and showed strong effort defensively.

For the Suns, PJ Tucker shot the ball extremely well. Devin Booker, while not shooting as well as he could, helped suck in the defense the way a veteran does, and made good things happen when he was on the floor (he was a +16 on the night).

But, again, the Wolves and Suns both showed their inexperience and lack of completed talent. Take the first Wolves make of the game. Fun highlight and a good Rubio pass, yes. But who was guarding LaVine on this play? How many teams do the Wolves get away with this against?

The Wolves, of course, aren’t innocent in the “bad mental mistakes” department, either. Take late in the game, when Shabazz Muhammad led a 3-on-1 and made the worst decision possible: developed tunnel vision and took the charge.

The game ended much better than it started, especially in the final moments. Devin Booker capitalized on a questionable and-one finish and made the free throw to put the Suns up 2. Wiggins followed with a great take to the hole to tie the game up. A Mirza Teletovic rainbow finish won the game for the Suns to conclude a series of good basketball.

But that was, for the most part, the best of it. Yes, there was a low-key productive double double for Karl-Anthony Towns. Ricky Rubio managed to tie the franchise record in assists (AGAIN). Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine scored the ball well. But the game was, simply put, not pretty. Neither team played particularly well, and the bench’s scoreless second half didn’t help matters.

The Wolves have had games like this before with far worse results in terms of score differential. Tonight was a bit of exception, because the Phoenix Suns are in a similar boat this year. They’ve hung around towards the bottom of the standings for most of the year, and played like lottery teams tonight. Some of it was a lot of fun, but it wasn’t all that pretty.

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9 Responsesso far.

  1. pyrrol says:

    Loved that alley oop inbound as well.

    No much to add… Feels like we played down to the Suns’ level, which is depressing. But they are pretty bad so we easily could have won. Maybe I’m a sore loser, but it did feel like the main reason we lost, what separated us from the Suns in an all around slop-fest is luck. If we had the same amount of luck we would have won by 5 or 10, but the basketball gods liked the Suns tonight.

    That is not to say we didn’t throw this game away with many shortcomings, just that the Suns also threw the game away with shortcomings too. Among our most alarming is getting murdered on the boards. For much of the game the Suns played 2 centers and we didn’t adjust to that (technically we do too, but both Deing and Towns have the skills of power forwards–not true of Len and Chandler). Towns is our only major rebounder a lot of nights. But he could still get better, and will as he fills out a bit. However, the other guys need to do their rebounding part. I think Rubio and Towns do their part on the glass. Sometimes Dieng does. Wiggins does not, LaVine does not, Shabazz does not, Bejelica does not, Payne does not. In this game everyone could have done better with rebounding. Seems like as soon as we spend weeks shoring up one fundamental shortcoming another springs open. Our rebounding has been really bad the last few games.

  2. R3davis says:

    Just another reason Sam’s gotta go. He doesn’t influence the end result on a game to game basis in any positive way. If the team gets up for a game like in OKC we can beat anyone, but much more often we don’t execute and get overwhelmed when other teams make adjustments. Is Sam asleep at halftime? He can have the credit for some of the young guys positive development this year but that doesn’t change the fact that if we needed a coach to win one game he would be FAR down the list. And with the talent we have we’re going to need a higher caliber coach to get us where we need to go

  3. sportsbygreg says:

    I’m a sore loser, too. All I want is a nice little winning streak to end the season to show some type of improvement. These moral victories or just not doing it for me. Yeah, the core is young, but this team just continually can’t seem to handle prosperity-win one, lose one… beat a great team-lose to a bad team. The Wolves are an enigma to some degree. Ditto-Never covering the corner 3, just too many mental lapses. And I also agree with Pyrrol about the lack of rebounding from guys who should be doing more. Ex. Wiggins

    • pyrrol says:

      Yeah, this team does have an enigma quotient. Like many Wolves teams in different ways, actually… I keep coming back to coaching. I think better coaching would solve the majority of these riddles.

      • sportsbygreg says:

        I agree. So it may be good that they don’t go on any kind of streak that may give a false impression that Mitchell is the guy. I like Walton or Van Gundy. I know some other assistant coaches are high on some Wolves fans list of canidates, just hope there is a change one way or the other.

        • pyrrol says:

          Yes. The thing about the coaching thing is that I think some people will be surprised by how much is solved and how different this team looks with better coaching. But it is more than that. With not very good coaching, you question what the reason is for everything that doesn’t go right. In other words it is so easy to attribute or misattribute all our shortcomings to coaching. When we get better coaching then we can see what that fixes and what is really due to the players’ limits or roster changes that are needed. The picture will be better and more clear with improved coaching. That’s the atmosphere we need as a franchise.

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