The Timberwolves put up 30 points in the third quarter Wednesday against the Trail Blazers. Typically, that’s a good number. Any time you crack 30, you stand a good chance of winning the quarter, or at least keeping the score close.
Instead, the Wolves ceded ground — and a lot of it.
The problem was the Wolves, who lost 123-114, allowed the Trail Blazers to score 43 points. It was one of their worst defensive quarters all season, and it ranks as one of the worst defensive quarters any of coach Tom Thibodeau’s teams have ever had.
It was the second-most points the Wolves allowed in a quarter this season, according to STATS. The most was 44 in the third quarter a 125-101 loss to the Warriors, who just happen to be the Wolves’ opponent Thursday night.
The Wolves gave up 43 points or more in a quarter only once last season — in the second quarter of a 116-108 loss to the Cavaliers on Feb. 14, 2017.
And in Thibodeau’s five seasons with the Bulls, an opponent scored 43 points in a quarter only one time — the fourth quarter of a 110-106 victory over the Knicks on Dec. 21, 2012.
The Blazers shot 14 of 21 for the quarter but they made seven of their nine three-point attempts. Their effective field-goal percentage for the quarter was 83.3, the third worst the Wolves allowed in any quarter all season. Effective field-goal percentage is a metric that measures field-goal percentage while counting made three-pointers as 50 percent more than made two-pointers. The seven three-pointers made in a quarter are tied for the most an opponent hit against the Wolves this season.
Thibodeau after the game was frank about the third quarter, calling it “a problem for us.”
“If you go in and you try to trade buckets, you’re going to be in trouble,” he added.
Perhaps some of Thursday’s struggles stems from Jimmy Butler’s absence, as Butler missed his third consecutive game because of a knee injury. Perhaps it will serve as a wake-up call headed into Thursday’s game against the Warriors, who already showed they are capable of surpassing what the Blazers did Thursday.