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Thursday (The Amazing Timberwolves) edition: Wha' Happened?

Posted by: Michael Rand under Sports Updated: January 27, 2011 - 8:24 AM

We have attended four Timberwolves games in their entirety this season. We are a microcosm of their season:

Oct. 27, opening night: 117-116 loss to Sacramento.

Nov. 24, 113-109 overtime loss to San Antonio.

Dec. 22, 112-107 loss to Utah.

Last night, 118-117 overtime loss to Oklahoma City.

The Sacramento game featured a blown lead down the stretch (albeit a small one, three points with about 3:30 remaining) and some curious player rotations (albeit in the first game, as head coach Kurt Rambis tried to make a point to Kevin Love by sitting him for the entire fourth quarter. Love has since, of course, played much better and seen way more court time).

The San Antonio loss saw Minnesota blow a 21-point lead in the third quarter, a six-point lead with two minutes left and a three-point lead with one possession left in regulation. It also saw Love's 32-point, 22-rebound monster game wasted.

In the Utah game, shockingly bad defense negated three quarters of very good work. The Wolves were outscored 41-24 in the fourth, again blowing a double-digit lead in a loss. Minnesota was still up seven points with three minutes to play and up by two in the final minute.

And of course, last night, there was the inability to make the really big basket or get the really big stop when needed. Kevin Durant played out of his mind (what's new) in scoring 47 often impossible points. But the game's three biggest possessions didn't directly involve the Durantula. Jeff Green's jump hook tied things with 4 seconds left to play in regulation, and Kevin Love's baseline jump hook wouldn't fall at the buzzer, sending things into OT. There, the Wolves scrapped well and had a chance to tie if Corey Brewer could sink a pair of free throws late (he missed the second) or win after grabbing the offensive rebound (Luke Ridnour heaved up a ridiculous shot with plenty of time left on the clock).

With the exception of Sacramento, the heartbreaking losses have come to very good teams in the West (Utah has been slumping, but the Jazz was on a nice roll at that point in the season and is still among the top 8 in the conference standings). The reasons for these struggles have been well-chronicled. The Wolves are young and lack experience closing out games. They still lack some pieces to the puzzle -- pieces that very well could fall into place, no matter how many speculative articles with thin premises are written about young point guards.

Their record in games decided by six points or fewer, if our math is correct, is 2-15. Their record in such games when we are in attendance is 0-4. For their own psyche and ours, they need to close out a few of these games with wins. Until then, they will continue to be the wrong kind of amazing.

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