Shorthanded Timberwolves stumble at the finish line again

Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports /

The Minnesota Timberwolves faced the Denver Nuggets without Karl-Anthony Towns, Jordan McLaughlin, or Rudy Gobert. While both Towns and McLaughlin are trying to recover from calf strains, both players have been out of the Timberwolves lineup for nearly two months. But Gobert is a relatively new addition to the team’s injury list, having recently suffered from a groin injury.

But as has been the case in the past, the Minnesota Timberwolves, though outmanned, are not always outgunned. In fact, the Timberwolves roster boasts a couple of young bigs in the form of Naz Reid and Luka Garza who have played spirited and competitive basketball in Gobert’s absence. That was certainly the case in this one, as Naz Reid put up 17 points and three rebounds, while Luka Garza scored 16 points and four rebounds on just 17 minutes of playing time.

The Timberwolves appeared to be on the road to victory, despite being shorthanded, when the team expanded their lead to seven points, 104-97, with just 8:12 remaining in the fourth quarter. The Nuggets got close, but a three-pointer from guard D’Angelo Russell set the score back to a five-point lead at 118-113 with under three minutes to go. It was the last point that the Minnesota Timberwolves would score.

Timberwolves guns fell silent

Jaden McDaniels, Naz Reid, D’Angelo Russell, and even Anthony Edwards would take shots at the basket, but none would fall. Timberwolves head coach Chris Finch, realizing that the Timberwolves’ offensive guns had gone silent, tried to help out the defense by subbing in Taurean Prince for Naz Reid. But by that point, the Nuggets had overtaken the Timberwolves, and it was just too little too late.

Garza did not have a chance to enter the game at the end. While he has proven to be better than expected, there are still moments in NBA games where he is not yet entrusted to compete. But that day will come soon.

A winnable game, a lost lead, a squandered chance to win, a late rally by the opponent. Pick your cliches, because each and everyone fits the Timberwolves team right now. They were three minutes away from returning to .500. Now, this team is 22-24, and the chances to return to the NBA Playoffs are looking slimmer and slimmer.

Final. 118. 86. 122. 73

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