Last Shots: On the math problem, officiating, road woes, and Rose’s resurgence

MINNEAPOLIS – Thirty-three quick thoughts for Derrick Rose’s 33 points in Minnesota’s 129-123 overtime loss to the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night at Target Center.

1. In three of the Wolves’ last five games the opposing team has hit 19 or more 3-pointers. Golden State and Sacramento while the Wolves were out west, and Detroit on Wednesday night at Target Center.

2. Each of those three games were losses, with the Wolves being outscored from behind the arc 174-75.

3. Plain and simple: the Minnesota Timberwolves have a math problem.

4. It’s a problem that they can’t overcome on a consistent basis. Not being able to keep up with teams shooting from deep – and Detroit isn’t even a great shooting team, to make matters worse – spells doom for the Wolves. They simply cannot overcome it.

5. On a night across the NBA where the Pistons knocked down 20 threes, the Pelicans made 19 of them, the Jazz 16, the Sixers 15, and the Rockets broke the NBA record with 26 made threes, the Wolves finished with nine makes from behind the arc. It simply becomes much tougher for them to win games in this era when they’re consistently outscored from that area.

6. “Make them miss,” Karl-Anthony Towns said. “Make them not take that shot.”

7. “We just sat up here and couldn’t adjust the right way,” Robert Covington said.

8. “They were hitting their shots,” Andre Wiggins said. “They were just playing harder than us. We weren’t in defensively like we were the first couple of quarters.”

9. “That was the whole thing. You have to react to what was going on in the game,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. “They made 20 threes. Blake was wide open on one in the corner, no hand up. Next play, we do the same thing. You can’t win like that.”

10. Each one of those guys were correct, and that’s the problem. The Wolves cannot afford to defend the 3-point line poorly, because they cannot take advantage when other teams fail to do so. It’s been an on-going issue that cost them a game on Wednesday night.

11. And the loss probably could not have come at a worse time for Minnesota. After this brief two-game homestand concluded with the loss to Detroit, the Wolves head on the road for six of their next seven games.

12. Oh, and of those games, four of them are against legitimate playoff contenders and the Wolves have won zero road games against Western Conference opponents, and their only two road wins are against Cleveland and Brooklyn, who have a combined record of 23-42 on the season.

13. So, yeah, this is suboptimal for the Wolves, to say the least.

14. The Wolves should have had this win put away, up by 14 at the start of the fourth quarter. Getting to that point was actually rather impressive considering the Pistons opened the game up on a 12-0 run before Minnesota stormed back to take control. Then, the fourth quarter happened.

15. The Wolves gave up a 40-spot in the quarter, allowing the Pistons to connect on 9-of-13 3-point attempts. From the start of the fourth quarter until the end of overtime Minnesota was outscored 51-31 in 17 minutes of game action.

16. “It sucks,” Wiggins said. “Building a lead isn’t easy and we just gave it away. We still had a chance to win, all we needed was that last rebound. That’s just willpower, we needed it, but we didn’t get it. It sucks.”

17. “We just had a lot of unfortunate events and we didn’t do what we needed to do, so that’s how it happened,” Towns added.

18. As for the unfortunate events that Towns mentioned, yes he was speaking of the Pistons becoming red-hot from deep, but also what was a rather poorly officiated game.

19. Towns, Thibodeau, or anyone else on the Wolves for that matter wanted to open up their checkbook and pay a fine for criticizing officials for their performance, and that’s understandable. Losing $25,000 on top of the result from the game is adding salt to the wound, but the officiating was rather poor on Wednesday, and no one would have blamed the Wolves’ coach or star player for being upset and lashing out.

20. Towns fouled out of the game in overtime on a questionable offensive foul call. Throughout the night things weren’t called correctly, but it was a problem that hit both teams. The referees were nearly equally bad. On the play where the Wolves took a lead of two with under 10 seconds remaining in regulation, Detroit’s Blake Griffin was probably fouled by Dario Šarić on his way to a steal and assist of a Covington 3-pointer. Had the Pistons been unable to tie the game with less than a second remaining, it’s fair to think that Detroit coach Dwane Casey would have been fuming over it.

21. Things like that happen, it’s still not an excuse for the result of a game that the Wolves had no business handing to Detroit.

22. On the bright side for the Wolves, the resurgence of Rose continues. He was arguably the biggest bright spot for the Wolves. Rose finished with 33 points and seven assists in the loss.

23. His night included a few pretty exciting “vintage D-Rose” moments, too.

24. https://twitter.com/Timberwolves/status/1075571360301309953

25. Rose continues to do things on a semi-regular basis that he hasn’t done since his pre-knee surgery days in Chicago. It’s remarkable to see his on-court comeback continue. It wasn’t his most efficient night in terms of shooting numbers (14-of-29), but his explosiveness is continuing to propel his game to levels it hasn’t been in quite some time.

26. https://twitter.com/Timberwolves/status/1075581092294471686

27. If this type of campaign keeps up, there’s a good chance that Rose finds himself taking home hardware as the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year when awards are announced in late June.

28. https://twitter.com/Timberwolves/status/1075596864458817536

29. Rose has been able to improve his game in ways that he was never particularly good at during his peak, too. So far this season, Rose is the NBA’s best shooter from outside of eight feet. If that had been mentioned prior to the season as a possibility for the former MVP, it would’ve been appropriately been called asinine.


31. The answer to Kirk Goldsberry’s ‘Who Am I?’ is of course Rose.It’s actually crazy to ponder where the Rose would be if not for Rose. If not for his resurgence the Wolves would be a team heading towards a top-5 pick in June’s NBA Draft. He’s been that good for Minnesota.

32. The Wolves will need Rose to continue to keep this type of play up if they want to find themselves back in the Western Conference playoff race and find a way to win away from Target Center.

33. Minnesota will be back in action on Friday night in San Antonio to begin the stretch of six road contests in seven games. Talk to you this weekend.