“It’s an embarrassment, we just got embarrassed,” - Al Jefferson.
I admit that I did not watch all of the fourth quarter. One can only look at a train wreck for so long.
The Timberwolves were blown out by the Warriors in every way possible. The loss against Golden State was historic in that it tied the most points allowed by the franchise and the largest margin of defeat.
The Timberwolves going into the game had to feel good about their chances. The Warriors had a short bench with injuries to starters and reserves. Stephen Jackson and his agent were feuding with coach Don Nelson. The Warriors had just received a beat down from the Sacramento Kings 120-107 the night before.
At the 7:18 mark of the second quarter the game was tied at 40. The Wolves had to feel pretty good about their chances. Unfortunately, this was the beginning of the end.
Warriors Corey Maggette then made a couple nice plays scoring the next seven points and then handing out a dime to Monta Ellis to push the score to 49-40. The Wolves then took a time-out to regroup but it was to no avail.
The Timberwolves simply stopped defending the paint. The Wolves suddenly forgot that the Warriors will shoot any and all open three point shots. Pressure on the ball became an unfamiliar concept to the team.
The Golden State Warriors kicked it into overdrive. At the end of the first half, the Warriors held a 74-55 lead.
Assistant Coach Reggie Theus was interviewed on the court at halftime. Theus had the look of a coach who was not happy as he made it clear that the team needed to step up its effort on the defensive end.
I was torn at this point. Should I stay up and watch another 45 minutes of the game or get some sleep? I decided that I would watch because the Wolves still had time to get back into the game. What a bad decision.
I lost more than 45 minutes of sleep as I tossed and turned for quite some time trying to figure out how bad it could get for the Timberwolves this year.
Warrior Kelenna Azubuike scored a season high 31 points in just 29 minutes. He drained wide open three pointers and scored in transition with dunks and lay-ups. Azubuike who had not scored more than 18 points looked like an all-star.
Of course, everyone on the Warriors looked very good. Every reserve on the Golden State bench scored in double figures.
When the Warriors drove to the basket they dished the ball to an open teammate either for a dunk or a wide open three point shot. The Warriors without a dominating inside player scored 66 points in the paint.
I am sure that there are some casual Wolves fans which will try to take solace into the fact that the team scored 105 points. Unfortunately, most fans who watched more than 10 minutes of the game know that Minnesota played poorly on offense.
The Wolves could not take care of the ball. Dribbling into double teams and throwing telegraphed passes was all too common. Minnesota finished off the game with 28 turnovers.
I think the most troubling aspect of the game was the lack of effort shown by the team for extended stretches of the game. The lack of effort was not lost on coach Kurt Rambis as he noted after the game, “I don’t feel our guys competed in an aggressive manner, a nasty manner that they have to compete with. That’s one of the areas we have to significantly improve upon as a ball club.”
If there is a silver lining to a blow-out of such proportions is that it forces each player on the team to look at themselves individually akin to someone who has faced significant hurdles in their life and hit rock bottom. Hopefully, this game will be the rock bottom mark for the Timberwolves this season.
Team captain Ryan Gomes after the game was quoted as saying, “I don’t think any of us have been beat this bad in any of our days of playing basketball. So it’s got to become personal. You have to do something about this individually and challenge ourselves individually, then the team ultimately will become better.”
Amen, Ryan. Amen.