Well, here we are. The season is over.
The worst has happened, and your Timberwolves have fumbled away a game that they should have, could have, needed to win. It’s over now, for all intents and purposes. Of course, both the Mavericks and the Grizzlies fumbled away games that they easily could have won, too. I’m not sure if that makes this feel a little better or a little worse, but I’ll leave it there for you to decide.
The Wolves allowed the Knicks, a rudderless squad that has quit on their dead-in-the-water coach and lost seven games in a row, on the final game of a long road trip, run them out of the gym in the opening quarter. The home team was down double digits before three minutes had ticked by, and no concern, or energy for that matter, was shown by Rick Adelman’s club.
Kevin Love largely had a disappointing night. Ricky Rubio was pretty up and down. Nikola Pekovic was good in the limited minutes that he was allowed to play. Corey Brewer simply couldn’t slow down Carmelo Anthony, as expected. And, also as expected, Adelman only allowed defensive ace Luc Richard Mbah a Moute to play a handful of first half minutes, instead electing the slight-in-build and always-gambling Brewer as the best option to guard one of the premier scorers in today’s game.
Even when Brewer was on the bench, Dante Cunningham saw minutes guarding Anthony. Not exactly a recipe to win, especially when the rest of the Knicks were shooting better than usual, too.
Kevin Martin, Chase Budinger, and J.J. Barea were all awful tonight, combining to shoot 7 for 29 (24.1%) from the field. And they were their typical collectively dreadful selves on defense, so there was a definite negative impact by a trio that is supposed to comprise more than a third of the top-eight players in the Wolves’ rotation.
Despite the sloppy showing, the Wolves got themselves back to within seven points in the second quarter before New York expanded their lead back to double-digits by halftime. The Knicks pushed the deficit back to as many as 17 in the third quarter, and believe it or not, Minnesota climbed back to within two points before the end of the frame.
But the Wolves went back to their shoddy bench to start the pivotal stanza, with no starters on the floor for a significant stretch in the fourth quarter. Love and Rubio sat for far too long, and Barea and his limited coworkers did their damage. By the time the Wolves’ duo re-entered the game at the 7:39 mark, the home team was back down by 11 points.
It continued downhill from there, and the Wolves’ realistic playoff chances ended with a whimper against a terrible basketball team. If they win the final six games of the home stand and Phoenix continues their slide, there may be a glimmer of hope. But if they drop another game in the next week, it’s all but over.
Disappointing. Not much else to say about this one. The up-and-down, taunting season continues on Friday with another struggling Eastern Conference team in the Detroit Pistons. Tip-off from Target Center is at 7:00 p.m.