Timberwolves Wrap: Close loss to the Hornets

Nov 15, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns (32) looks past Charlotte Hornets forward Marvin Williams (2) towards the basket in the first half at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 15, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns (32) looks past Charlotte Hornets forward Marvin Williams (2) towards the basket in the first half at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports /

The Timberwolves led by 12 points at halftime but saw a horrible third quarter dash their hopes to beat a good team once again, ultimately falling to the Charlotte Hornets

The Charlotte Hornets came to Target Center with a 6-3 record and a surefire playoff team in the Eastern Conference. The first quarter and a half of Tuesday night’s game was tightly contested, but the Wolves’ bench dug-in midway through the second frame and Minnesota dug a quick double-digit lead.

The home team led by 12 points at halftime, but Timberwolves fans have seen this song and dance before. Indeed, the NBA’s worst third quarter team based on net rating floundered against the league’s best third quarter team.

It started with a 15-2 run from Charlotte. The Wolves went on a quick 9-0 run, leading us all to believe that they’d stemmed the tide, and potentially even flipped the script on third quarters moving forward.

But a 21-6 run by the Hornets over the final five-plus minutes of the third quarter meant that the Wolves had once again been destroyed in the 12 minutes immediately following halftime. This time, it was to the tune of 36-17, and it meant that a 12-point lead at the break was turned into a seven-point deficit heading into the final frame.

As soon as the fourth quarter began, of course, it’s like the Wolves suddenly were allowed to run an actual NBA offense once again. The defense never really improved, however, and was ultimately Minnesota’s downfall.

The Wolves actually took a lead on an Andrew Wiggins three-pointer at the 7:30 mark, but never led again. They never trailed by more than two possessions until the final minutes, however, and were mainly stuck vacillating between one and two possession deficits.

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Big threes were knocked down by Wiggins, Karl-Anthony Towns, and Ricky Rubio in the final minutes, but all brought the Wolves within two or three points. When Zach LaVine, Towns, and Wiggins all had opportunities to tie the game or put the Timberwolves in the lead, the shots simply would not fall.

As you’ll see below, the Wolves’ individual box score lines are chock-full of inefficiency, turnovers, and a lack of free throw attempts. The high number of three-point shots (the Wolves were 15-of-35 on the night from beyond the arc) was fantastic, but outside of Wiggins, Minnesota was not attacking the basket very often.

Towns seemingly hung around the perimeter all night once again and received very few post touches, even when matched-up with the smaller Marvin Williams at times.

Stop me if you’ve heard me before: the Wolves were impressive in building a double-digit lead at halftime, but maddeningly kicked the lead away in the third quarter before ultimately losing in a close-and-late game situation.

Wash. Rinse. And repeat.

And this time, it was almost more infuriating as it came against a legitimately solid team that the Wolves had on the ropes, and even had a second chance to beat them in a close game down the stretch.

It’ll change, eventually. A team can’t be this bad for one quarter for that long — especially when they’ve been so very impressive in the first half of nearly every game.

But for now? Wash. Rinse. And repeat.

Tweet of the Night

Lame humor? Sure. But apt, isn’t it?

Star of the Game

Kemba Walker: 30 points (12-19 FG, 2-3 3P, 4-4 FT), 6 assists, 5 steals, 2 turnovers

We don’t often give the Star of the Game to the opposing squad, but Walker was impressive in this one. He controlled the game for the most part, and made smart decisions on the offensive end of the floor in the screen-and-roll game.

Zach LaVine was deadly in the first quarter, making his first four three-point attempts. Andrew Wiggins was unstoppable early in the fourth quarter as the Wolves clawed their way back into the game.

But nobody could step-up consistently down the stretch, whereas Walker was a problem for the Wolves all night long.

Notable Timberwolves Lines

  • Andrew Wiggins 29 points (10-24 FG, 3-6 3P, 6-9 FT), 3 assists, 2 rebounds, 2 blocks, 4 turnovers
  • Karl-Anthony Towns: 21 points (9-23 FG, 3-10 3P, 0-0 FT), 8 rebounds, 4 assists, one block, 3 turnovers
  • Zach LaVine: 19 points (7-16 FG, 5-10 3P, 0-0 FT), 2 assists, 2 rebounds
  • Ricky Rubio: 11 points (2-5 FG, 2-3 3P, 5-6 FT), 8 assists, 8 rebounds, one steal, 4 turnovers

Wiggins and Towns didn’t sniff shooting 50 percent from the floor, and Towns and LaVine didn’t attempts a single free throw. Wiggins, Towns, and Rubio also combined for 11 of the Wolves’ 18 turnovers on the night.

Next: Why Are The Timberwolves Off To A Slow Start?

Who’s Up Next?

The Wolves are off on Wednesday and face-off against the 1-9 Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday night. The game will be broadcast on TNT at 7:00 p.m. in the Wolves first “real” (non-NBA TV) nationally-televised appearance of the young season.