The Timberwolves snatched defeat from the jaws of victory again on Tuesday night in Toronto, losing to the Raptors 109-104 on the second night of a road-and-road back-to-back against Eastern Conference teams.
On the heels of a bad loss at Atlanta last night, the Wolves came out with more energy against the Raptors, which at 34-15 have the second-best record in the East. Also, the Wolves have not won a road game in Toronto since roughly the beginning of time.
Yet things were looking up for a spell. The Wolves held a double-digit lead early for most of the 2nd. They continued to hold the lead through the third, but it decreased to about five and then dipped toward the end of the 3rd.
The Raps started pouring it on and took what would become a commanding lead that they managed to hold until the end despite a run by the Wolves that cut the Raptors lead to two, at 103-101, with a minute remaining. DeMar DeRozan, an All-Star again this season, countered with a bucket and a pair of free throws to ice the game.
Although the Raptors are a really solid team, this was another game the Wolves let get away from them.
A few thoughts:
- Karl-Anthony Towns needs to get more than seven shot attempts up for this team to win. KAT has shown his ability to score at-will around the hoop, but he isn’t always aggressively looking to go into #beastmode.
Andrew Wiggins can’t score just 15 points on 7-22 shooting just 10 days after ago he scored 29 in a big win against Toronto at home where he carried the offense in Jimmy Butler’s absence. (Editor’s Note: Isn’t it supposed to be predetermined that Wiggins will explode offensively in games against Toronto?) He was ice cold from the start and took a long time to find a rhythm. That just isn’t going to work against a team as good as the Raptors–especially on nights when KAT isn’t scoring. Anyway, Wiggins’ cringeworthy inconsistency was on display tonight.
Jimmy Butler paced the Wolves in the loss. Butler had 25p/6r/5a. But he also shot just 5-10 from the charity stripe in what would ultimately be a five-point loss. That’s unfortunate.
Jeff Teague’s struggles continued. While Teague did not play as bad as he did last night in Atlanta on 1/20 (first box score), his numb#rs in the advanced boxscore aren’t pretty.
Advanced Boxscore from 2018-01-20
Advanced Boxscore from 2018-01-30
The Wolves are now 1-4 in their last five games. Their only win in that stretch was against the beleaguered Brooklyn Nets.
Cause for concern? It is difficult to tell. This feels like one of those teams that is going to continue to have ups and downs that feel a little bit steeper than what we’re used to. Unfortunately, we don’t know where those break points are going to be, so each game feels like its own rollercoaster.
4th Quarter Woes
The manner in which the Wolves lost this game is consistent with how they’ve generally lost this quarter. The Wolves are fifth-best in the NBA in 1st quarter point differential; fourth-best in 2nd quarter differential; and seventh-best in 3rd quarter differential. Not bad, right?
But get this. The Wolves’ ranking for point differential in the 4th quarter: 29th out of 30 (-1.63). (Eds. Note: Statistics come from nbaminer.com.) That statistic is going to have to move in the right direction if the Wolves are going to win the winnable games like good playoff teams do.
The Wolves next game is Thursday at home against the Jason Kidd-less Milwaukee Bucks. Tip is at 7.
Till next time.