It’s not exactly a fresh subject. But, after once again surrendering a sizable first-half lead with another abysmal third quarter, the talk after Wolves practice Wednesday again focused on how the trend can be reversed.
“We gotta fix it before it turns bad,” Zach LaVine said about the team’s third-quarter swoons. In Tuesday’s loss to Charlotte the Wolves were out-scored 36-17 in the third quarter. “We’re playing really well and it just turns and ruins the whole game. It ruins all our spirits. Going into the next game, you fell like you’ve got it figured out. We’re up 15, 12 points and we’re going good and it’s just a nosedive. We just have to really look at film and figure out what we’re doing wrong.”
To coach Tom Thibodeau it’s the same thing that always goes wrong. The ball stops moving from side to side, players start trying to do things on their own, breakdowns occur and the other team is off and running. Thibodeau pointed to a stretch in the third quarter Tuesday when a few ill-advised shots were converted into three-pointers by Charlotte.
‘The first half the ball moves freely,’’ he said. “It goes side to side, and we’re getting great shots. And then, when we hit a little adversity, we try to get out of it individually. And you can’t do that. The ball has to move. When the ball moves we get great shots. I think we have guys who have been unselfish, when the ball moves from side to side we get penetration and we make the right play we get high-percentage threes. But we have to get a blend of inside out. That’s where we have to grow.’’
Thibodeau dismissed the notion that the players haven’t yet learned his defensive system. They know what to do. They just need to do it consistently.
“It’s a commitment that has to be made,” he said. “You have to do it day after day and there is no easy way out. It’s, are we going to pay the price to do what wins?’’
It was that challenge Thibodeau gave his team today.
“We’re just got to play better,” Karl-Anthony Towns said. “We’ve got to play better offense, better defense. We have to pick up our intensity. It’s a collective effort. We all have to do a better job, especially myself, if we’re doing to be that we want to be.’’
Meanwhile, Thibodeau said both Shabazz Muhammad and Brandon Rush were able to do some things in practice today. The team’s injury report doesn’t come out until later this afternoon, but I would suspect both will be listed as questionable. Muhammad has missed the last two games with a sore right knee. Rush is dealing with a sprained right big toe.
LaVine, who returned Tuesday after missing a game with knee soreness, said he was OK.