With each step the Wolves take to reach .500 the next one seems inevitably back below it. With Saturday’s 115-111 loss at home to the Thunder, the Wolves have a chance to take the next one back to .500 Monday against the Sixers in Philly.
The Wolves season-long trend of losing close games continued against the Thunder, and though I’m far more likely to pin the problem on the lack of any bench scoring whatsoever, Mark Remme says the Wolves’ problems can be solved in the final 5 minutes of their games…
…we saw the difference between an Oklahoma City team that has reached that level and thrived over the past five seasons and a Wolves team trying to carve out that type of identity. In front of its most energetic crowd of the season, Minnesota battled from start to finish and held control throughout essentially the entire game. They led by 13 in the fourth quarter, answered OKC’s runs and looked poised to pull off their fourth straight win against the Thunder at Target Center.
With three minutes to play, the Wolves held a 107-103 lead. But championship contenders find ways to win if given the opportunity, and on this night Kevin Durant’s 48 points—23 in the fourth alone—were too much for the Wolves to overcome.
“I thought we played well enough to win,” coach Rick Adelman said. “We did everything but win.”
That’s the difference right now for the Timberwolves. Many of their wins come by double digits, but it’s the close losses that are keeping them from getting into the top eight in the West. The Wolves are currently 0-9 this season in games decided by four points or fewer. Saturday was another one of those games.
If you are able to hold off runs and execute in the final five minutes, you’ll become a playoff contender. The Wolves are right there. Even with nine losses by fewer than four points, they’re sitting at 16-17 and are three games out of that eighth spot. They’re right on the cusp, and the highs this team has achieved in the first two months showcased the potential this team possesses. But potential won’t equate to a playoff berth. Execution, intensity and accountability late will. The Wolves have these pieces in the locker room, but the consistency has not been there.