Raptors 124, Wolves 110: It Got Away Again

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Tonight, Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, and Zach LaVine shot a combined 30/55 for 71 points.

On a more experienced team, or even just a deeper team, your best players unanimously shooting over 50 percent and getting 17+ points will get you the win. But when you allow your opponent to get to the free throw line 33 times, shoot 44 percent from deep (with 12 makes), and score 124 points, big nights from your team’s “Big 3” isn’t as impactful.

This wasn’t a night where the Wolves blew it in the 3rd quarter, though you wouldn’t have known it by the television broadcast rhetoric. This wasn’t a night where the Wolves fell into the spell of some random opposing role player killing them, though the Raptors’ big 3 (aka the top 3 scorers: Lowry, DeRozan and Jonas) was exemplary in their own right. The Wolves lost this game because they didn’t play good defense, both on the perimeter and on the interior.

They have the fifth worst defensive rating in the league, and that was exposed tonight. You can’t beat the Raptors when the stat lines look like this.

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Jonas shot the ball brilliantly and had excellent shot selection. Same with Lowry. While DeRozan didn’t shoot well from the field, over a third of the Raptors’ 33 free throw attempts came from him, and he only missed one of them.

To be clear, the game seemed like it was going to be close, up until about halfway to go in the fourth quarter. A big three by Wiggins was the last point where the Wolves looked like they’d have a chance to claw back in and get the win. A huge run gave the Raptors a relatively easy win, and a big point deficit.

The Wolves bench gave 22 points, and actually shot the ball relatively well. Kris Dunn had one of his better halves in the first, but couldn’t do much in the second. The down point for Dunn came when gave up a four-point play to Kyle Lowry, after making the mistake of going under the screen. On paper, he appeared higher efficiency than Ricky Rubio, who was a -14, had 5 fouls, and only 3 assists. But tonight was another example of Rubio’s ability to keep the ball moving keeping him a factor in the game.

This wasn’t a case of the Wolves’ best players not playing well. Not offensively, anyway. This also wasn’t the case where those same players wouldn’t have some highlight plays.

Several, even.

If you only watched the Wolves offensively, you would have thought they would have won. But bad transition defense, bad half court defense…basically bad defense in general gave this game away for the Wolves. The now 15-7 Raptors have shown the ability to adjust to the strength to the team they’re playing. Better than most.

Tonight, they figured out how to score on the Wolves, and did it in bunches. The Wolves kept it a game, but they let it slip away, again.

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5 Responsesso far.

  1. Tom says:

    The scoring in bunches came at the FT line. Take that away and the wolves starters outplayed the Raps and the bench was solid too. Look at DeRozen shooting line and tell me Wiggins didn’t play D. Refs bail out “stars” in this league, have for years. A flail of the arms, a yell and the whistles blow, late and often. I’m not saying the team defense was anything but deplorable, Lowry got to the middle against Zach, Rubio and Dunn in the fourth way to easily, and KAT didn’t respond by forcing him to pass. Rotations were slow and not automatic, as they should be by now.

    Rubio looked like he knows he is being replaced by Dunn. He has had a rough time as a wolf with all the coaching changes, losing Pek and KLove and until recently, has played with dignity and intelligence. Remember how Adelman’s offense fit Ricky In wins against Mavs, Spurs and other playoff teams? Not so, in Thibs “offense”. Not that Dunn is better, but the coach/GM drafted him and by God he will play. I hope we can get something for Ricky, although Thibs hasn’t showcased him, so we will lose him for cap space at best.

    As for the lottery next year, Thibs will select another young person he can mold to his style of play. He will again have cap space go unused, because stars will not come here and play this type of game as second bananas to KAT and Wiggins. Baz will be gone and hopefully Paine and Pek will come off the books. All of it will go to our two former ROY and possibly Zack ( he will be the next player to get the ice from Thibs, who sees him as a backup and not a starter). Bet Zack sees it differently, as does his agent.

    The faces change, but the carousel of losing keeps going on. At least we got to watch the game with the wonderful Kevin Harlan last night.

    • “Rotations were slow and not automatic, as they should be by now.”

      They’ve played 22 games with Thibs.

      “Not so, in Thibs “offense”.”

      They have the 10th best offensive rating in the league. I get that people are frustrated from years of losing but this relentless pessimism is gross.

  2. gjk says:

    The “Not MY Job” All-Stars made an appearance again with their shirking of defensive help responsibility to the role players. Newsflash, “Big 3”: you have more responsibility than getting buckets. They made a good point during the 4th quarter about the necessity for veterans because the coach’s voice can’t be the only dominant one in the locker room, and none of their best players have the credentials to be telling anyone else what to do. They seemed to be getting on a nice roll with Rubio and Towns primarily handling the ball, then, boom, “Ricky, go stand in the corner.”

  3. Tom says:

    I don’t know if these guys will get team defense or not. I do think that KAT needs to take on the responsibility of guarding the best low-post player every night and hopefully take pride in shutting him down, like his mentor KG did. Wiggins shut DeRozen down for most of the game, until he got in foul trouble. KAT and Zack need to be put in that same position. If you want to be a Hall of Famer, you got to play both ends of the court like you are the best player on the floor.

    As for the bench, Baz should be punished with a few DNP-CD for walking back on D and then when we got the rebound, he turned and sprinted back looking for a lead pass. He also dribbled out the shot clock when he should have known they only had a few seconds. That and the matador defenses of Belly and KAT was all so timberpuppy disgusting. These mounting losses are going to Clipperize this team, if Thibs doesn’t watch out. I got a feeling that we will see three or four current players leave before the trade deadline. Thibs the GM needs to step in and help Thibs the coach.

  4. SadWolvesfan says:

    Bench Zach Lavine in the 4th and the wolves are .500. Horrendous defender and bad shot taker when it counts.

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