Second night of a back-to-back, on the road, and playing against a team that is fighting for their playoff lives. Not a good recipe for a Timberwolves victory.
It was ugly from the start, as neither squad could could knock down a bucket and the score held at 2-0 with nearly three minutes gone by in the game. It was not a game that was terribly pleasing to watch. In the first half, the Wolves couldn’t make a shot and spent far too much time complaining about the officiating. In the second half, the game was already all but out of reach.
After falling behind by multiple 20+ point leads in the first half, the Wolves actually battled back to within ten points late in the second quarter before the Grizzlies expanded the lead yet again. Late in the second quarter, the Wolves whittle the deficit back down to 12 points, but Memphis stemmed the tide and built their bloated lead right back up to where it had been previously.
Right off the bat, it was a terrible shooting night for Kevin Love. He missed his first four shots from the field and ultimately finished with 16 points on just 6 of 18 shooting (2 of 8 from three-point range), 7 rebounds , 4 assists, and 3 turnovers. Both he and Kevin Martin received early technical fouls for complaining to the officials, too. (Love threw the ball against the basket stanchion, but it was out of frustration from the officiating, clearly.)
Nobody played particularly well for the Wolves. Gorgui Dieng did finish with 11 points and 17 rebounds in 37 minutes, but struggled mightily, as everyone does, with handling the twin towers of Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol. Gasol’s post moves and sheer size were simply too much for Dieng, and that’s nothing to be ashamed of for Gorgui at this stage in his career.
The Grizzlies are simply a solid team, and Mike Conley largely had his way with the Wolves’ back court. Rubio did okay playing on-ball defense, but even though the scouting report clearly called for Rubio to stay beneath the high screens and clog passing lanes to Gasol and Co., Conley was able to knock down 9 of 12 field goals en route to a 23 point, 6 assist, 5 rebound game.
Conley also funneled Rubio into the tall trees in the paint on the other end of the floor, and was able to largely stymie Rubio’s offensive impact. The Wolves’ point guard didn’t have much help, as Brewer and Martin were both inefficient and largely ineffective, and Love had a down game as mentioned earlier. But Conley’s top-line point guard defense complicated what the visitors tried to accomplish on offense.
Tonight was exactly what we expected, unfortunately. And though the Wolves showed some some fight at times, even into the second half, it still feels like the final three-ish weeks of the season will be a slow, painful death. Not exactly the best way to convince Kevin Love and eventually Ricky Rubio to stick with this woeful franchise.
After managing to climb to 34-32 just under a week ago, the Wolves have lost three straight and are once again back under .500 with a record of 34-35. The Wolves will host the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday night at 7:00 CT.