May 23, 2024

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Timberwolves in a hole after an epic meltdown, mistakes from Karl-Anthony Towns and Chris Finch

Timberwolves in a hole after an epic meltdown, mistakes from Karl-Anthony Towns and Chris Finch

Minneapolis – The game ignited. The center of the goal was on fire, and the Timberwolves seemed to be advancing 2-1 in their Western Conference series with Memphis Grizzlies. This was exactly what those fans had been waiting for so long; A team that was able to exceed expectations, play together and earn their trust.

With 1:05 to play in the third quarter, the Timberwolves led by 21 points, and the arena was in full celebration mode. These wooden wolves were bottled Ja MoranteI got Garen Jackson Jr. In an unpleasant problem and open militants D’Angelo Russell. Even after giving up his 26-point lead in the second quarter, things were just fine. The Wolves were in control, and it was only a matter of time before they finished winning and staged Game 4 on Saturday night that could have broken the roof of the place.

Instead, what followed was a Viking-level collapse. So far, the Timberwolves have played a precious few matches with the goal of breaking the heart of a Minnesota sports fan the way the Vikings have played so many times over the years. They finally got one on Thursday night, and quickly collapsed along the road in epic fashion, edging out a 50-13 score over the last 15 minutes in a 104-95 loss to the Grizzlies which put them 2-1 in the best results. Seven series.

During the final 15 minutes of the game, Memphis edged Minnesota 50-16, including 37-12 in the fourth quarter. Wolves 3 for 19 were fourth, including 1 for 11 out of a 3-point range. The Grizzlies outperformed Wolves 19-5 in the recent period, and Patrick Beverly He missed all five of his shots, including a 3 wide open corner kick that would have restricted her by three minutes to play.

“Twelve points second quarter, 12 points fourth quarter is unacceptable,” Beverly said. We produced the shots we wanted. We defended well. They only have 104 points. So it looked bad, but it doesn’t feel as bad as it already was.”

That was really all Beverly could say. Of course I felt bad. The wolves completely took over the Grizzlies with two different points in the match. But their lead of 26 points in the second quarter was reduced to seven points at the end of the first half thanks to a stagnant attack, and their lead waned by 25 points in the third quarter after less than five minutes from the fourth minute due to a stagnant attack and the inability to match the player. Grizzlies Energy.

Fans of Minnesota sports have seen such losses many times before, but rarely have the Timberwolves squad been good enough to make fans open their hearts to them in the same way they did with the Vikings and Twins, two franchises that often frustrated at the big moments. After splitting up in Memphis, the wolves return home to greet the heroes. The center of the target was gritty, and the noise was splitting the ear.

The team that often had a laugh played a near-perfect first quarter, taking a lead from a swell of 18 points to 26 per second. But wolves’ inability to get close to the living killed them, and the Carl Anthony Towns problem resurfaced to add to a growing list of disturbing interlude performances in his autobiography. He had five personal fouls that set him at 32:46 of playing time, and only made four shots per game.

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Towns had a disappointing performance in the second game, when he had 15 points and 11 rebounds, but was held off by 28 minutes due to a foul issue. It was 3 to 11 with 11 points before losing in the championship win over clippers.

Towns has been the team’s best and most reliable player this season, but his performances in two of the three playoff games in the series threaten to overshadow all of his truly impressive progress. He’s basically lost the past two years to infections, the COVID-19 virus and the death of his mother. But this season he’s back in the All-Star Game, hooking him up with his teammates like never before and looking to put his big struggles behind him with 29 points and 13 rebounds in a Minnesota Game 1 win in Memphis.

But four shots? Franchise player? Cities were not interested in discussing it.

“Next question,” he said.

There were several reasons for the decline in use. Russell and Beverly started the match strong, with Beverly grabbing the ball straight into Morant to build an early lead. Russell came out of the shooting slump with 22 points in a 9-of-18 shot during the first three quarters. But it went 0 out of 3 in fourth.

“I think we’re getting too high, and it’s coming back and chasing us,” Russell said. “Losses, try not to go down too much. Things like that. When we run and do it while we’re at home, I think we have to be prepared and stay locked in the moment and what we do to get to that feeling of happiness.”

Towns made two fouls in the first two, which made it difficult for him to get in rhythm with his teammates when he was constantly being pulled off the bench to keep him out of trouble. He fired his only shot in the fourth quarter, then looked at his hands as if he was telling his teammates to get the ball more often. But he didn’t take another shot.

It’s all too easy to get cities out of the games, which has been a recurring problem for him in Minnesota dating back years. Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins made the expected decision to start on a small scale, removing the slack Stephen Adams, who can’t stay with Towns in defense. Enter Kyle Anderson And he moved Jackson to center stage to bring in double teams. It’s a familiar strategy, and Towns had his moments against it Thursday night. But overall, he had a hard time getting defenses to pay for that strategy.

It was also too easy for the younger defender to deny Townes the ball. When he gets it, the defender either swipes over Towns to try to steal or summon reinforcements with a double team of Jared Vanderbilt To remove the ball from the hands of KAT.

And there are points in the games where the wolf guards can’t get the ball or can’t get it. Finishing with four shots in a game when his team is struggling for buckets overall (Minnesota’s shot 38.8 percent from the field) is unforgivable. He has attempted 11 shots in the previous two games, due in part to the limitations on his minutes due to fouls. He captures plenty on the offensive end, and they quickly add up when tasked with protecting the edge against Morant’s relentless drives to the basket.

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“I should watch the movie and try to do whatever it takes,” Townes said. “Even breaking out from the outside, you only stopped to take any idea of ​​my notification. I just have to work through adversity honestly. That’s it really. Just stay with each other.”

There was a renewal of criticism that Towns had heard so often in his career, and he will hear it over the next two days at Game 4 on Saturday night. As a senior, it is always more difficult to share than, say, Anthony Edwards on the wing. But Towns appears headed for a place in the NBA this season. The two big people likely in front of him, Joel Embiid And Nikola JokicThey don’t have games where they get four shots. It just doesn’t happen, and it may be because nuggets And Sixers The guards know where to butter their bread.

“KAT is the key piece in what we’re trying to do here,” Beverly said. “Obviously when he’s in trouble it doesn’t help us. But I really think it’s (fever) the real edge tonight. Five blocks. It’s just all about playing right. I had a few shots at the end and I think I could have gone ahead and done. I put this Ali, and I have to do better.”

Wolves have to find a way to involve Towns more in the attack, and Towns must be more disciplined not to make unnecessary mistakes. His last whistle of the night was at the border, but in general, the errors for which he was called were well-deserved. The wolves wouldn’t stand a chance against the Grizzlies if they didn’t find out.

“They’re swarming it everywhere. Three on the post and on top of the key,” coach Chris Finch said. We have to find it in the flow, and that’s exactly how it should be. When we went to him, they doubled, and got a good look. We didn’t knock them down.”

Towns made quick decisions against the double, often giving the ball away to try to keep it moving to get a better look for his teammates. But when the offense stalled late in the third and fourth quarters, the Timberwolves needed to incorporate their most efficient offensive player. And that player must be ready to take matters into their own hands. Towns cited Wolverhampton’s 26-point lead as support for the notion that his team are not far behind.

He said, “We saw a recipe.” “We saw something that was working, we have to take advantage of it more.”

The biggest shame of it all was the errors and quiet attack that came during one of the best defensive displays of Towns’ life in the first three quarters. He was all over the place in defense, beating the Grizzlies to allow Vanderbilt to pick up rebounds, block five shots, and alter several others in the edge and wall off Morant, who had one of the most misguided triple-players you’ll ever see. He finished the match with 16 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists and three blocks. But he also turned the ball seven times and missed 13 of his 18 shots, looking completely bemused throughout most of the match.

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“I’m doing my best to affect the game, come paint, and try to block everything,” Townes said. This is what the guards asked, and I wanted to oblige. So any time they come in paint, I wanted to make life hell for anyone, Ja Morant, anyone coming in with paint.”

Beverly Morant attacked in defense, getting easy buckets and collapsing defense to create for the others. In the first half, he threw a pass off the backboard to himself causing a frenzy the crowd ran out of energy. But maybe the little wolves got caught up in the tumultuous atmosphere.

“The sentiment in the building has to be the only emotion from our squad,” said Russell, who led Wolves with 22 points, assists and five rebounds.

The Timberwolves, who had made massive progress at multiple points in the game, celebrated the Target Center bustling crowd. (Brad Rimple/USA Today)

As it is all season, Teos Jones Step in to save the Grizzlies, hitting all three of his duos, including two big ones in the fourth quarter who completed The Grizzlies’ Return. Brandon Clark He also crushed Wolves with 12 points out of 20 in the fourth quarter.

Finch, the highly respected coach of the Wolves, also made some mistakes. The biggest came during a 21-0 second-half run that allowed the Grizzlies to leap ahead. Finch didn’t call a timeout during the entire round, only calling one after Jones gave 3 Memphis an 86-85 lead with 6:48 to play.

“I burned a lot early, so I was hoping we could get to fourth a little bit deeper beforehand,” Finch said.

Unlike most of the buttons that Finch has pushed this hack season for the Wolves, this guy hasn’t called. He was generally in favor of empowering players, letting them play through struggles and find themselves. But it didn’t work on Thursday night. The Grizzlies kept coming and going to the Wolves, impressing the local audience who were dancing to Prince’s song “Let’s Go Crazy” by 16 points to start the fourth quarter.

As devastating as this loss was, Timberwolves walked out of the ring after the match knowing they could hold out with the second seed. They beat the Grizzlies in Game 1 and smashed them – in two different times in the same game! – In game 3 before they distribute everything. The Wolves entered the series thinking they could get over the annoyance, and somehow that didn’t change after Thursday night.

Morant was out most of the night. Jackson played 21 minutes because of a mistake and scored only six points. Wolves took the lead with 26 points and 25 points. KAT could be better. Finch could be better. They think there is something to build on there. Saturday’s win would complicate the series in two games each and ensure that at least six matches would last.

“No one said it was going to be easy,” Beverly said. “We don’t want it to be easy. We want it to be very difficult, and it has been. Again, this is a watershed loss, but there is a lot we can learn from here, and we will.”

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(Top image: Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)