Well, what a night. Saturday at Target Center the Wolves didn’t trail until the fourth quarter. But, after leading by double figures in both the second and third quarters, they fell to an injury-riddled Phoenix team that ended a five-game losing streak.
After the game, there was some, well, controversy. The game-turning play was Isaiah Canaan’s three free throws with 6.1 seconds left that put Phoenix up for good. The foul call was on Jeff Teague on what at first appeared to be a shot clock violation. Indeed, after the game, Thibodeau said a foul hadn’t been called, but a shot clock violation had. After review, Canaan hit the free throws. Thibodeau also said he was “concerned’’ with the conversation he had with officials following the call.
I acted as pool reporter and talked to crew chief Kenny Mauer after the game. Here is a transcript of the conversation:
Q: Thibodeau said there was no foul called on that play that resulted in the three free throws and that it was a retroactive call essentially. Was there a foul called?
A: “Yes, the referee signaled the foul first, then signaled the 24-second violation. Then went like this, which means we are going to review it. I went over to review it and the replay department, the replay center confirmed that the foul occurred with :00.2 remaining on the clock.”
Q: Who made the call?
A: “Mr. Ayotte (Mark Ayotte).”
Q: So he made both the foul call, and the…
A: “When you review the play, he goes ‘foul’; then he goes ’24’; then he goes ‘review’…”
Q: Thibodeau also said he was concerned by the ensuing conversation with you guys. Can you speak to that at all? A: “I told Mr. Thibodeau, ‘yes he did call a foul. The play was handled correctly.’”
So there you go. Of course, it shouldn’t have come to this. Not on a night when the Wolves turned 27 Suns turnovers into 29 points. The Wolves led by 15 in the second quarter, by 12 in the third. But the couldn’t seal the deal.
Here are some numbers to explain why:
--The Wolves just couldn’t stop fouling jump shooters tonight. Three times they fouled a Suns player on a three-point attempt. Minnesota committed just 19 fouls, but the Suns got 35 free throw attempts.
--The Wolves were out-rebounded 52-31.
--The Wolves couldn’t put the Suns away in the first half, when Phoenix committed 19 turnovers, because they shot just 36.5 percent.
--And we might have added injury to insult tonight. Wolves guard Jimmy Butler was nursing what appeared to be a sore lower back through much of the second half tonight. We’ll have to wait until after practice Sunday to find out how badly Butler is hurt.