MINNEAPOLIS – Twenty-five quick thoughts for the 25 points scored by Derrick Rose in Minnesota’s 123-120 overtime loss at the hands of the Atlanta Hawks on Friday night.
1. Shelby J sang a lovely rendition of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ prior to Friday night’s matchup between the Atlanta Hawks and Minnesota Timberwolves. When she finished singing the Hawks starters were introduced followed by Minnesota’s starting five. It was after that when Andrew Wiggins realized that he forgot to put his jersey on. A team staffer had to run back into the Wolves’ locker room, grab it, and hustle back to make it back before tip.
2. Forgetting to put on his jersey was a perfect metaphor for Wiggins’, and the Wolves’ night as a whole.
3. They forgot to show up against Atlanta, plain and simple. There’s really no other way to put it. The Wolves had no edge in the first half, falling down by as many as 22 points to the Hawks.
4. While processing that, keep in mind that the Hawks aren’t exactly trying to win every game they’re playing. Atlanta is in the early stages of a rebuild. The Hawks don’t have their eyes on many victories this year. They’ve got their eyes on Zion Williamson, Cam Reddish, or RJ Barrett, one of the three prizes from Duke waiting for NBA teams in June’s draft.
5. “We all didn’t know,” Karl-Anthony Towns said of Wiggins missing his jersey. “We’ll address later, but you’ve gotta be ready.”
6. Wiggins wasn’t ready for this game. It’s tough to say anyone outside of Towns, Rose, and Robert Covington were. Even those three weren’t at their best. In the second half the team as a whole was better, climbing back from the hole they dug themselves and taking a 9-point lead with 7:54 remaining in regulation.
7. Forgetting the jersey seems funny on the surface. Wiggins was even seen laughing about it prior to tip as he received it. But deeper than that, it sums up the night, and truthfully the entire season. The Wolves weren’t ready for the night, and the argument can be made that they weren’t ready for the season, either.
8. Wiggins finished his forgetful night throwing an inbound in overtime to rookie wing Josh Okogie for what could have been the game tying 3-pointer. Wiggins’ stat line was 16 points on 5-of-14 from the floor, six rebounds, two assists, and a horrendous 5-of-12 from the foul line. After he split a pair of free throws as the Wolves trailed by two with less than ten seconds left in overtime, boos from the Target Center faithful rained down.
9. “It sucks. But it is what it is,” Wiggins said softly after the loss. “I’ve just got to keep going and next time make my free throws.
10. “That’s fans for you. We’ve got some s—- fans and we’ve got some good fans. That’s just how it works.”
11. It’s a rather bold move for a max player to call out the fans during what is statistically the worst year of his career.
12. On the night he forgot to put on his jersey, it may have been better for the Wolves had no one gotten it for him.
13. This loss is inexcusable. It’s a mistake that contenders don’t make, and one the Wolves certainly couldn’t afford, especially with how bad they’ve been away from Target Center.
14. In fairness to the Wolves, they’re not a contender. At this point it can be said that this current group isn’t going anywhere, and that’s as much on the front office and coaching as it is on the players. Tom Thibodeau’s seat can’t feel very comfortable at the moment. With the way the entire Jimmy Butler situation was handled, and now embarrassing losses like this stacking up, how could it be?
15. It’s tough to say that this is the low-point for this group, post-Butler. Previously it could have been the loss at Phoenix earlier this month, or the blown lead against the Pistons. Right now, this loss outweighs both of those, but what the future holds might be worse.
16. Thibodeau is running players into the ground, Okogie is now having trouble getting onto the floor even with Jeff Teague sidelined. Rose has been one of the biggest reasons that the Wolves have been able to stay afloat this year with his resurgence, but he’s constantly being pushed to the edge – or over it – by Thibodeau.
17. This season Rose has played 38 minutes or more in five games. In the Wolves’ game directly following a high-minute count like that, Rose has either been an inactive, or unable to finish it due to injury.
18. He played 38 minutes on Wednesday in Chicago and was forced to pull himself out of the game Friday night with a right ankle sprain. He still played 38 minutes against the Hawks, and it’s unlikely he’ll be in action on Sunday when the Wolves get back at it.
19. Sensing a pattern?
20. Covington has also been battling knee issues throughout the past few weeks. There have been several nights he hasn’t looked right. The answer to that was a team-high 44 minutes on Friday, and some time spent limping on the floor.
21. These minute counts happen once in a while. It’s the NBA and these athletes are in peak physical condition, but they’re not meant to be doing this type of work on a regular basis. It’s a reason why Rose’s career will always be “what could have been” because he missed so much time due to injury.
22. It’s plausible to think that Rose could miss extended time with this ankle sprain. Following the game, he declined to speak with the media, heading for the treatment room rather gingerly after getting dressed. The sad part is, for as good as he’s been this season, it could all vanish just like that through no fault of his own.
23. In Friday night’s edition of Math Watch™ the Wolves lost as they were outscored by the Hawks 48-33 from behind the arc. They’re now 9-17 on the season when the opponent either ties or outscores them from behind the 3-point line. Minnesota making 11 3-pointers is certainly a step in the right direction, but allowing 16 of them is, once again, inexcusable.
24. It’s fitting for it to be inexcusable, because so much of the Wolves season has been just that.
25. The Wolves return to action next on Sunday in Miami against the Heat. Talk to you after.