Thinking about the big picture might be too daunting. So the Timberwolves, after Monday’s loss to Houston, decided to narrow the focus.
Houston’s 50-point, third-quarter bomb was the difference in a 119-100 loss at Target Center, which put the Wolves down 3-1 entering Game 5 in Houston Wednesday.
The key to getting past this loss and getting ready for the next one?
“Focus on one game at a time,” Jimmy Butler said. “One quarter at a time. One possession at a time. And just play hard. It’s still a race to four.”
That’s why the big picture is too much to focus on. The Rockets can clinch the best-of-seven series Wednesday. The Wolves have to win that, come home and win at Target Center just to push it to seven games. Considering their 0-2 record in Houston in this series — and Minnesota’s 1-6 record vs. Houston overall — it’s a daunting task.
But the Wolves said their confidence had not been dented.
“Absolutely not,” Karl-Anthony Towns said. “We will be ready. We have to get ready for that next game. Obviously we’re disappointed in what happened tonight. But there is no time for us to put our heads down. We have to move on to the next game, fix our mistakes and be ready for Houston.”
Thoughts of home
The news coming out of Toronto Monday was troubling for Wolves forward Andrew Wiggins, who grew up there.
Ten people were killed and 15 injured when the driver of a van plowed into pedestrians there in what appeared to be a deliberate attack. Wiggins said nobody he knew was among the victims.
“My condolences to the families,” he said. “And to the city of Toronto. Canada’s a great country. Things like that shouldn’t happen there.”
Avoid the poison
Criticized much of the season on Twitter and elsewhere because his inner flame seems to burn so low, Wiggins’ cool now is serving him well with the heat turned up in the playoffs.
He said he ignores the outside chatter.
“I don’t really go on social media too much,” Wiggins said. “I just watch movies, watch video games and play with my dog. That’s it. Everything else I don’t see. We’re not worried about what the outside world thinks. We’re just focused on us.
“Feeding into all that stuff is poison. You don’t want that to get to you.”
Playoffs or bust?
In an interview with WCCO 830 on Monday, Wolves owner Glen Taylor was asked if he would have made some sort of structural change to a front office in which Tom Thibodeau is president of basketball operations and coach and Scott Layden is general manager.
“We made the playoffs, that will be my answer,” Taylor said. “Thank goodness, we made the playoffs.”
The Wolves signed free agent Derrick Rose in early March because Thibodeau knows him, trusts him and because of his playoff experience. He has become something of an “X Factor” as the series progresses.
Frankly, he was one of the few bright spots in the Wolves’ loss Monday.
Rose played 32½ minutes, made seven of 11 shots, scored 17 points and had six rebounds with four assists. He was one of only three players to finish with a plus rating.
“I can’t even think about that,” Rose said, when asked about his game after his team had lost. “Not to boast or brag, but I know what kind of player I am. But when you lose a game like this tonight, it’s tough to think individually. It hurt. … But Thibs has given me the opportunity. The last two places I was at, they didn’t need my services. I came here, and I got the opportunity.”
• Taylor, in that radio interview, said attendance, TV ratings, ticket and suite sales, corporate partnerships, merchandise sales all are significantly up. But player payroll is rising, too. He said the team will lose money this season, “unless we get deep in the playoffs.” The franchise’s value, though, has increased more than tenfold since he bought it for $88.5 million in 1994.
• The Wolves are now 1-8 all time in Game 4 of the playoffs. Their only victory is an 84-82 decision over Denver on April 27, 2004.