In a downward-spiraling season that the Timberwolves and their coach vaguely have attributed to their youth, third-year forward Shabazz Muhammad specifically blamed himself for Wednesday’s 106-94 overtime loss at Dallas.
To be sure, Muhammad wasn’t the only one who missed open shots when the Wolves surrendered another double-digit lead and were outscored 32-10 in the game’s final 12 minutes.
But he called himself responsible for his team’s 23rd loss in its past 28 games because of his shots — and opportunities — missed as well as a potential game-winning shot at the end of regulation when he lost track of time.
“We didn’t execute down the stretch, starting with myself,” said Muhammad, who played the game’s final 22 minutes.
Muhammad went 6-for-16 from the field and missed six of his final seven shots, including three three-pointers in the fourth quarter’s final three minutes and three of the four he took in overtime.
Most memorable, though, was the shot he never got off as the fourth quarter’s final seconds ticked away with the score tied at 89. Seventy feet away from the winning basket, he grabbed a tipped ball after Dallas guard Wes Matthews’ shot missed with fewer than four seconds left and while teammate Ricky Rubio frantically tried to call a timeout, he dribbled the length of the floor focused at scoring on a dunk or layup or by drawing a foul.
Time ran out as he approached the rim and the expiring game clock positioned just above and beyond it.
“I didn’t see the clock, that was my fault,” Muhammad said. “I wasn’t aware of the clock. I just didn’t get it up in time. I just didn’t think I’d do the right things for our team to win. … I’ve got to be more aware of the clock. That’s just something that’s inexcusable for myself. I’m just pretty disappointed about that.”
Muhammad pushed the ball down the floor with two Mavericks players in pursuit while Rubio trailed behind, turning toward an official while making the hand signal for a timeout that wasn’t given. Muhammad ran toward the basket in front of his team’s bench but said because of the noise and trying to concentrate, he didn’t hear any calls for a timeout or for him to shoot the ball before time expired.
“There were a lot of things that happened there,” Wolves rookie center Karl-Anthony Towns said. “We actually called timeout with three seconds left. It just happens. It happens. I thought actually he was going to pull up and shoot it, but I see he was trying to be aggressive and dunk on somebody. It happens. It still doesn’t excuse us from doing our job in overtime and coming out with a ‘W.’ ”
The Mavericks scored the first four points in overtime and outscored the Wolves 17-5. The Wolves made two of nine field-goal attempts, including Muhammad’s 1-for-4, in OT.
“I feel like I could have won us the game,” Muhammad said. “I’m disappointed I didn’t make any shots and I should have known time on the clock. I take this loss on myself.”
Towns’ 27-point, 17-rebound, six-block performance was his young career’s high for rebounds and tied his high for blocks. He said such a game meant “nothing” because the Wolves didn’t win, but his play almost left interim coach Sam Mitchell speechless for a moment after the game.
Andrew Wiggins was impressed, too. “Man, it was probably his best performance this year,” Wiggins said. “He’s capable of that all the time. He impacts the game in so many different ways we need.”