The Timberwolves have endured many devastating losses this season, but Tuesday night’s heartbreaking, last-second loss to the 76ers may be the worst of the bunch.
After dominating the 76ers by a 110-86 score in their last meeting back on November 17th, many saw tonight’s game as one of the easier wins the Timberwolves would be able to acquire this season.
However, after falling behind as much as 26 in the third quarter, Ricky Rubio, of all people, hit a huge three to tie the game up at 91 apiece with 1.6 seconds on the clock. It looked like the game was headed to overtime until an inbound pass from Dario Saric found Robert Covington in the air near the rim, where he banked it in for the go-ahead bucket to lead the 76ers to a 93-91 victory over Minnesota.
The game got off to about as bad of a start as possible for the Wolves. They shot 26 percent from the floor in the first quarter while allowing the Sixers to score at will in the paint to the tune of 22 points (only four in the paint for the Wolves) and making Nerlens Noel, who scored eight points in a little under five minutes of play in the first, look like an all-star in the process.
Andrew Wiggins got off to a rough start, going 0-4 in the first quarter and simply not finding his rhythm on the night, finishing 2-15 from the field and 0-3 from beyond the arc for just eight points in the contest. A large portion of that had to due with too much one-on-one ball being played in the half court offense, resulting in Wiggins not being able to find much room to operate on the evening.
Zach LaVine gave his best effort to keep Minnesota in the game in the second period, scoring 11 points off 4-6 shooting but the Wolves simply had no answer for Joel Embiid. The Sixers rookie scored 12 of his 25 points in the second quarter, going a perfect 3-3 from the field and continuously getting to the free-throw line, where he converted 5-6 of his attempts. Philadelphia lead Minnesota, by a score of 57-42 at the half.
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Embiid carried over his first half dominance into the third quarter, ballooning the Sixers lead to 26 after he found his running mate for the night, Ersan Ilyasova (19 points off 7-14 from the field) for a three on the wing.
Things started to slowly turn as LaVine continued to be aggressive, scoring another 12 points in the third on his way to a 28-point game, but this time had the help of Karl-Anthony Towns, who chipped in with nine third quarter points to help Minnesota outscore Philadelphia 26-11 after -being down by 26 to make it an 11-point game at 79-68 heading into the fourth.
It wasn’t until 8:47 left in the game that the Timberwolves were finally able to get the game to single digits. That happened when rookie point guard Kris Dunn broke down the defense and kicked it out to Shabazz Muhammad for the baseline three to cut the lead to 73-82.
Again, led by Zach LaVine and Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota took advantage of eight fourth quarter turnovers to put the Timberwolves in a position to tie the game with late with a Ricky Rubio three.
But as bad teams often do, the Timberwolves still found a way to lose, allowing Covington to get in perfect position near the basket to receive the inbound pass and put it in for what can only be described as another defeating loss for the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Star of the night
Joel Embiid: 25 points (8-20 FG, 1-3 3P, 8-11 FT) 8 rebounds, 3 assist, 2 blocks, 1 steal and 3 turnovers
Embiid set the tone for the 76ers from the beginning of the game. He and the Sixers were more physical throughout the first half and most of the second. When needed, he came up with big plays on both ends of the court.
Notable Timberwolves Lines
Karl-Anthony Towns: 23 points (9-22 FG, 1-6 3P, 4-4 FT) 15 rebounds, 5 assist, 2 blocks and 3 turnovers
Andrew Wiggins: 8 points (2-15 FG, 0-3 3P, 4-4 FT) 5 rebounds, 3 assist, 1 steal and 4 turnovers
Zach LaVine: 28 points (11-20 FG, 3-8 3P, 3-4 FT) 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals, 1 block an 3 turnovers
Shabazz Muhammad: 10 points (3-6 FG, 1-1 3P, 3-4 FT) 5 rebounds, 1 steal, 2 turnovers
Gorgui Dieng: 10 points (4-6 FG, 2-2 FT) 9 rebounds, 2 assist, 2 blocks, 1 steal and 1 turnover
Who’s Up Next?
The Timberwolves will head to Washington on Friday to play the Wizards and December’s Eastern Conference Player of the Month, John Wall.
Its the Wolves’ first meeting against the Wizards this year and while both teams have dropped their last two games, Washington has been playing well as of late, winning 10 of their last 16 games. The Timberwolves will need to bring their ‘A’-game, to say the least.