If Gerald Green misses that baseline jumper with 4 seconds left ... if Kevin Martin makes his little jumper in the lane at the buzzer ... if Ricky Rubio doesn't turn the ball over a possession before that ... if, if, if, the story of the Wolves' season and their 104-103 loss to the Suns.
If one of those things happens, we probably aren't talking about this today -- at least not at this volume.
We aren't talking about the Wolves' end of game woes again. They are 0-10 in games decided by four points or fewer. It takes a village to accumulate that kind of futility, but once again Rubio was front and center with their late-game struggles. He did have one point in the fourth quarter last night. That brings his grand total up to four points -- total (TOTAL!) -- in the fourth quarters of those 10 losses by four points or fewer. We will say it again: he can be a marvelous passer, and we still very much like his all-around game, but in crunch time it's hard when one of your key players -- a guard, no less -- is absolutely no threat to score. Just follow him into the lane, toward the baseline, and wait for the kickout pass.
But let's back up from the end of the game for a moment. We attended last night's game with our pal Clint, who offered this insight after having been to exactly one other Wolves game this season -- the recent late-game meltdown against Oklahoma City: "So here's the scoop for you: Barea and Love are fighting." Clint has some journalism in his blood, but he is not a reporter. He had merely observed some body language in the OKC game between the two, coupled it with the earlier Love quote about bench scoring and Barea's response, and come to the conclusion that there was a problem there. It was probably the second quarter Wednesday when Clint said that, so we paid more attention. Barea went into full pout mode with Dante Cunningham in the fourth quarter when both came out of the game. They sat at the end of the bench and didn't join at least one timeout huddle. A teammate motioned them over, and Barea wanted no part of it.
We wouldn't be talking about this, probably, if the Wolves hadn't blown the lead again. But they did, and Love was frustrated again, so he brought up Barea and Cunningham postgame.
The story line Wednesday night so easily could have been positive. It was a very good chance for the Wolves to get over .500 for the first time since late November. It was the first time they were playing with a healthy Chase Budinger and Ronny Turiaf, both of whom helped mightily off the bench (the Wolves' reserves had 29 points last night and looked far more functional).
Instead, Love and Barea are still frustrated, the Wolves are still failing to execute when it matters most, and the main story line feels like it's about a team in danger of coming apart at the seams.