Enough, Jimmy Butler said.
Although, after enduring what he and his Timberwolves teammates had suffered at the hands of the Miami Heat on Friday night at Target Center, Butler took a bit longer to vent than that.
The reason: a 109-97 loss to the Miami Heat in front of an announced 18,978 fans — the third sellout of the season — that had that crowd booing down the stretch.
It wasn’t as close as the score.
The Heat made 19 of 39 three-pointers, both season highs for a Wolves opponent. Former Wolves guard Wayne Ellington hit on six of nine on the way to a game-high 21 points. Time and time again, open in the corner, Miami rained down three-pointers, leading by as many as 20 in the fourth quarter.
And so, enough.
“We haven’t guarded anybody all year long,’’ said Butler, who scored 18 points. “Different mistakes, same mistakes, we have to eventually figure it out and want to play defense. Stop trying to outscore the opposing team. That starts with me and goes all the way down the line.’’
It wasn’t pretty. The Heat was continually able to break down the Wolves defense off the dribble, then kick the ball out for an open look. Six Miami players made at least one three-pointer.
Afterward Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau seemed as frustrated as Butler.
“They were cracking us off the dribble,’’ he said. Then he paused. “Yeah. Cracking us off the dribble.’’
With both starting point guard Jeff Teague (sore Achilles’ tendon) and reserve Nemanja Bjelica (left midfoot sprain) out of the lineup, the Wolves were shorthanded from the start. Thibodeau went with Aaron Brooks at the point to begin, before shifting to Tyus Jones.
The Wolves tied a season low with 97 points. Center Karl-Anthony Towns finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds, but he had just two points and four rebounds through three quarters, which ended with Miami up 11; afterward Thibodeau suggested Towns wasn’t moving enough without the ball.
“He scored at the end,’’ Thibodeau said. “But it was meaningless.’’
But it was the defense that was the problem. Again. Thibodeau criticized the way the bigs played the pick-and-roll. Towns agreed.
“We weren’t doing a good job, including myself, of doing what we need to do defensively,’’ Towns said.
It showed. The Wolves scored the game’s first points. But halfway through the first quarter, the Heat — which already had hit three three-pointers — was up 13 and never trailed again.
“It’s disheartening,’’ guard Jamal Crawford said. “You can make a run, and boom, here come two more threes, you know?’’
Butler knows. After the game, calmly, he talked about the Wolves (11-8), who have yet to come together on the defensive end.
“We’ve got to start guarding somebody,’’ he said. “It’s getting ridiculous, and it’s getting sad. I heard some boos in there. Rightfully so. If we don’t want to go out and play hard, do what we’re supposed to do, they’re not going to come support us.’’
In a game in which the Heat made more threes than the Wolves attempted, that was clear.
“I would think, after going through the film, you watching yourself constantly getting beat on the defensive end, you’d get sick and tired,’’ Butler said. “I don’t think it registers in our heads like that. It’s like, ‘Oh, eventually they’re going to miss a shot.’ Not in this league. You have to work to make them miss a shot.’’
And so, midway through a four-game homestand, back to the drawing board.
“It’s just will to want to do it,’’ Butler said. “Coaches put us in a great position when it comes to scouting and letting us know what they’ll be running. When we get out there we have to execute it.’’