Warriors 109, Wolves 104: That Gray Area
It was a loud, fun, energetic game between one of the league’s all-time great teams, and one of its most talented young rosters.
Not surprisingly, the Warriors, who are looking like they may just reach that elusive 73-plus win record at season’s end, came away with the win. What was surprising was just how mature the young Timberwolves looked as their opponents.
After the Wolves fell short, Sam Mitchell spoke to the media in a mostly positive outlook, but an overall disappointment in how they executed down the stretch. Not surprisingly, he couldn’t see the mostly good play from the Wolves as a “moral victory”.
He also said that the Wolves know how to take losses the right way.
“When we’re on the road, lose, and get on the bus…the bus is quiet” he said.
This was apparent in the locker room tonight too, as the Wolves said very little to each other, taking their time preparing to leave the Target Center. Knowing to take losses hard isn’t a staple of all losing teams, so in that sense, this is one good takeaway, if anything else. The Wolves know that losing sucks, and they want to stop it from happening.
But as a few of us writer folk chatted quietly in the locker room, I couldn’t help but think about how well the Wolves played tonight. Sure, they made some mental mistakes down the stretch, didn’t execute in the last two minutes, and had the game lost on an errant Andrew Wiggins fadeaway. All of this is true, but for the most part, tonight qualified as more of a “moral victory” than any other game this season.
Because to me, there is such thing as a gray area. Yes, the term “good loss” or “moral victory” can be overused, and it probably has been by me and other Wolves writers in the past, in an attempt to salvage another otherwise lost season.
But tonight, they played their asses off, and they deserve to be commended for it, even though they lost. Ricky Rubio shot the ball great, showing off the work he’s put in with Mike Penberthy.
He showcased his badass intensity on the floor on a couple occasions, most notably (in the 2nd half, I believe) hustling back and going for a block he had no chance of getting, but still ending up diving on the floor. He was furious after he didn’t get the block, and cussed up a storm.
Andrew Wiggins had too many iso plays drawn up for him late, but he started off shooting the ball great. He was picking his spots perfectly, and showed a strong willingness to attack. One of my favorite plays came in the 3rd quarter, which involved him getting a good look off a great passing decision he made earlier in the possession.
Wiggins, like the rest of the Wolves, played better defense than we’ve become accustomed to seeing for most of this year. While too many iso plays late ruined Wiggins’ line a bit, it was an overall great game.
Karl-Anthony Towns is, well, you know by now. His play isn’t completely consistent to this point, but it’s consistent enough to where you should feel good (nay, great) about him going forward. He didn’t let big man killer Draymond Green bother him, as the 20 year old (I repeat, he’s 20 years old) go 11-19 en route to notching his 41st double double of the season.
Zach LaVine had a great game, too. Tonight may have been his best game of the year in regards to him coming off screens and playing off Ricky Rubio. He played within the offense correctly, and didn’t make mistakes. It was great to see.
Most of tonight was great to see. There isn’t a lot to take from this game that should, or can, be looked at in a negative light. There was too much chucker, iso basketball towards the end of the game.
That, with the fact that they were playing the freaking Golden State Warriors was their ultimate demise. It’s a demise that several good teams have faced this year against the defending champs. I’ll rephrase: It’s a demise most teams would love to say they’ve faced this year. The Warriors usually do much worse to their opponents.
So, can tonight be considered a “good win”? A “moral victory”? Some people will say that you win and you lose, and there isn’t much in between. But to me, watching a team as young and developing as the Wolves can’t be looked at in that lens. There was too much good here to walk away without feeling pretty good.
Maybe the terms are overused, but it applies tonight. If you’re still bummed, here’s a tune.