Timberwolves Wrap: Wolves drop a tough one in opener

Oct 26, 2016; Memphis, TN, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves forward Karl-Anthony Towns (32) shoots over Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol (33) during the first quarter at FedExForum. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 26, 2016; Memphis, TN, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves forward Karl-Anthony Towns (32) shoots over Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol (33) during the first quarter at FedExForum. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports /

Final. 98. 86. 102. 211

The Timberwolves led by 17 points in the first quarter of the season opener, but ultimately fell by a final score of 102-98 to the Grizzlies in Memphis on Wednesday night.

The Tom Thibodeau Era started off with a bang. Somewhere along the way, however, the intensity waned just enough and the old, grizzled Grizzlies found enough open shots to propel them to a SCORE victory.

That said, it would be a mistake to dismiss the Grizzlies and pretend like this was a bad loss; the Grizzlies have made the playoffs each of the last six seasons. On the other hand, they were missing starters Chandler Parsons and Tony Allen and were still able to outlast the Wolves and pull away in the final minutes.

The Wolves went up by a score of 9-1 and eventually 20-3 before the Grizzlies stemmed the tide and then some. Minnesota’s new defensive scheme was impressive, especially early, and other than a massive third quarter lapse was a breath of fresh air over the defense played by the Timberwolves for, oh, the past 12 years or so.

The offense was solid throughout, and other than a handful of contested shots and cases of poor shot clock recognition, was certainly a step in the right direction. The bench was disappointing, only scoring 17 points with rookie Kris Dunn leading with eight points. Brandon Rush was held scoreless and saw his only three-point attempt rim out, and Nemanja Bjelica only scored just three points.

More from Timberwolves News

The Wolves saw their lead evaporate in the first half but built it back up in the final minutes to go up by nine points at halftime. The third quarter was a disaster, however, and Minnesota was outscored by a 26-16 margin.

Heading to the final frame down by a single point, the Wolves’ bench held serve until midway through the quarter. But then the foul calls stopped coming as the officials swallowed their whistles on both ends of the floor, and the Timberwolves forced a couple of possessions.

Leading by a score of 90-86 with just over three minutes left after a Zach LaVine jumper, Mike Conley hit a tough three-pointer out of a timeout, and Vince Carter shutdown Andrew Wiggins on the other end of the floor.

After a Marc Gasol basket, Karl-Anthony Towns knocked down his first three-pointer since the opening minutes of the game, giving the Wolves their final lead of the game at 93-91.

The Grizzlies score seven straight points and the visitors didn’t score again until LaVine hit a three-pointer with the game nearly out of reach.

It was a disappointing loss, but mainly due to the massive lead that was built early in the game. But on it’s face, losing a road game to the Memphis Grizzlies with Gasol, Conley, and Zach Randolph all in the lineup certainly isn’t the end of the world.

Now, a loss in Sacramento on Saturday night would be a completely different story…

Tweet of the Night

Star of the Night

Mike Conley: 24 points (8-14 FG, 4-5 3P, 4-5 FT), 4 assists, one assist, one block, two turnovers, five personal fouls

Conley was controlled early by Rubio, but was clutch late from behind the three-point line and his usual, consistent self on both ends of the floor.

Stat of the Night

The Wolves had a rough night from the free throw line and it came back to bite them. They started extremely slowly and finished making just 20 of their 29 attempts from the charity stripe — just 69 percent. Ricky Rubio was just 2-for-5 from the line and Wiggins was 10-of-14.

Notable Timberwolves Lines

  • Karl-Anthony Towns: 21 points (9-20 FG, 2-5 3P, 1-1 FT), 5 assists, 4 rebounds, one steal, one block
  • Andrew Wiggins: 25 points (7-14 FG, 1-1 3P, 10-14 FT), 7 rebounds, one block, 2 turnovers
  • Zach LaVine: 19 points (6-14 FG, 3-6 3P, 4-5 FT), 5 rebounds, 3 assists, one steal, 2 turnovers
  • Gorgui Dieng: 12 points (5-10 FG, 0-1 3P, 2-2 FT), 14 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, one block

Next: 11 Reasons To Watch The Timberwolves In 2016-17

Who’s Next?

The Wolves get the next two days off as they head west to take on the Sacramento Kings and their new coach, former Grizzlies’ head man Dave Joerger. The game tips at 9:30 Central Time.