The Timberwolves couldn’t outlast LeBron and the Lakers in the Play-In Tournament Tuesday. They took the one and only loss they can afford, unless they want their season to be over. Which is sort of how it feels after Sunday’s drama.
Sunday’s game versus the Pelicans resulted in Rudy Gobert punching his teammate Kyle Anderson in the face mid-game during a timeout huddle, Jaden McDaniels punching a wall for some idiotic reason, resulting in a shattered hand and somehow, someway, a win for the Wolves.
This capped off the 2022-23 regular season play and brought the Wolves into the Play-In Tournament where they were faced with the task of playing LeBron James, Anthony Davis and the Los Angeles Lakers.
This is where the downfall continued. The Timberwolves were up for the majority of the game, then fell flat-footed when Karl-Anthony Towns got into foul trouble as he infamously seems to always do. He had five fouls and had to ride the bench for a while. In turn, in true Minnesota sports fashion, they didn’t rally, they didn’t bring each other up with the loss of Towns and they didn’t do anything. Literally, didn’t do a thing. They froze.
The Wolves went scoreless for six straight minutes in the fourth quarter which allowed the Lakers to come back. Minnesota shot and missed on 11 straight shots which gave the Lakers the opportunity to tie the game. Which they seized. LeBron then stood at the top of the key, milked the clock down to the last seconds, drove the ball under the hoop and dished it out to wide-open Dennis Schroder who nailed a three with 1.4 seconds remaining.
But wait… there’s more. A miracle happened and the gods of basketball came in clutch for the Wolves. Mike Conley heaved up a desperation three in the corner off an inbound pass where he missed terribly but Anthony Davis barely touched him after the shot went up resulting in a whistle and three free throws. A bailout for the Wolves and a chance to give them redemption. Conley hit all three free throws with 0.1s remaining as a true veteran should.
Then Minnesota dropped the ball in overtime, losing the game after all that work. Now they look to play either the Thunder or Pelicans where they once again get a second chance.
As a Minnesota sports fan, it is almost comical watching them barely making the Play-In Tournament, losing a big lead, getting bailed out on a call that shouldn’t have been made and then watching them lose anyway in overtime. Now they get second chance, once again and they will play the winner of the Thunder-Pelicans game; the winner officially goes to the playoffs to face the Denver Nuggets.
Maybe they will have a turnaround and have a Cinderella story this year, but I know and I think most know that won’t be happening. For now, we get to watch the least clutch state in all of the sports have a painful season after season just to lose on the big stage. It may be a missed field goal from the Vikings, players fouling out and losing big comebacks from the Wolves, losing in the first round year after year for the Wild, or sadly enough our own Mavericks or the rival Gophers losing in the NCAA Hockey Tournament Championship.
Write to Luke Jackson at Luke.Jackson.firstname.lastname@example.org
Header Photo: Anthony Davis is defended by Karl-Anthony Towns during the first half of an NBA basketball play-in tournament game. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/The Associated Press)