The Timberwolves jumped out to a fiery start Wednesday night, but the energy was short-lived as the last three quarters proved a constant battle of “catch-up.” The 100-85 loss to a less-than-impressive Denver squad made it that much more disappointing. Andrew Wiggins led the team with 20 points, followed by Gary Neal who added 13 off the bench.
Minnesota had an early spark when Ricky Rubio dished the perfect pass to Wiggins for a slam dunk at the 6:00 mark. The play was part of an 8-0 run by the Wolves, and things seemed to be going their way. After a reactive timeout by Denver, though, the momentum shifted and from that point on the game ran in the Nuggets’ favor.
In the second quarter, Minnesota shot only 21 percent from the floor for 16 points, in comparison to Denver’s 34 points.
“In the last two months this is probably the most disappointing loss we’ve had just because we’ve been playing pretty good,” said head coach Flip Saunders. “We just didn’t play with any sense of urgency.”
Kevin Garnett added 11 points, six rebounds and a block in 21 minutes on the floor. Minnesota’s defense looked rough all night, but it was abysmal when Garnett was on the sideline. The young team just could not keep up with Denver, and they struggled to find a groove on either end of the floor.
No matter how many times the Wolves grabbed a bucket or two in an attempt to cut the deficit, the Nuggets answered with points of their own. Following the game, Rubio took ownership for some of the problems.
“We’ve got to bring more energy every night and tonight we didn’t,” he said. “We’ve got to start the game with energy. I blame myself. I didn’t bring enough energy tonight.”
Both Rubio and Kevin Martin have been averaging double-digit points over the last stretch of games, but the pair looked entirely out of sorts, combining for only 15 points on 7-of-28 shooting. As a team, Minnesota shot 39 percent from the field and 16.7 percent from behind the arc. Denver shot 40 percent from behind the 3-point line.
The Wolves biggest downfall Wednesday was in the paint, as they allowed the Nuggets to outscore them 52-28 points in that zone.
Despite the tough loss, Garnett continues to express a positive and motivated attitude since returning to his original team. The veteran spent the entire game coaching his teammates on the sidelines, offering encouragement, and handing out fist bumps as the guys came off the floor.
“This is a team that will fight for 48 minutes,” said Garnett. “This is a team where everyone will give what they have every night. That’s a good sign.”
Minnesota fell to 13-47 on the season, and the team will remain in town for the last of a three-game home stretch. The Wolves will welcome Portland for a 7 p.m. tipoff Saturday night.