After another loss caused by another fourth-quarter break down on defense, the Wolves were clearly frustrated, starting with coach Tom Thibodeau.
“When you’re out-rebounded, you’re fouling recklessly, not protecting the basket, your weak side has no awareness of what’s going on, it’s not acceptable,’’ Thibodeau said.
That frustration was felt in the locker room two. By Ricky Rubio, who sat and watched in the fourth quarter again, with Tyus Jones playing all 12 minutes. By Karl-Anthony Towns, who again tried to take all the blame for the team’s woes. By Andrew Wiggins, who said the team keeps making the same defensive mistakes. “The message is getting through,’’ he said. “But it’s different from saying something to actually doing it.’’
Here are some take-aways from Utah’s 112-103 victory.
--On a team that, frankly, appeared soft Monday, one player was hard-nosed. Zach LaVine scored 28 points, with 20 of them coming in the second half. He also had season highs in both assists (eight) and rebounds (8).
--The defense kept getting worse as the game went on. Thibodeau counted 13 “blow-bys’’ in the second half by the Jazz. Utah shot 50.6 percent for the game, 61.1 percent in the second half and 65 percent while scoring 38 fourth-quarter points.
--It’s something to watch the extent to which Jazz center Rudy Gobert’s ability to protect t the rim affects an opponent. He changed shots all night. He scored 16 points, had 17 rebounds and three blocks.
--Keep an eye on the point guard. I understand that Jones gave the team a spark in the comeback victory over Phoenix. But he struggled just as badly on defense as anyone else tonight. Rubio is not enjoying spending fourth quarters as a spectator.
--Thibodeau promised to “look at everything,’’ when it comes to fixing his team’s defense. It will be interesting to see what he has to say after what promises to be an important practice Tuesday.