There is a numbness that goes with losing again and again and again. Timberwolves fans know this lack of feeling well and have made that known in their attendance this season, the worst in the league.
There is also frustration that can eke out no matter how hard you try to hold it in your body. That showed in a downright miserable third quarter for the Timberwolves in another loss, 113-104 to the Thunder at Target Center.
Robert Covington and Ryan Saunders each picked up technical fouls in the third, arguing calls that maybe didn’t deserve the kind of fight they put up for them. There was some anger on the bench, all natural reactions to the Wolves in their current state, which is amid a nine-game losing streak.
“There’s frustration, obviously. We want to win, I want to win. But no one is going to feel bad for us, so we’ve got to go out there and get it done,” center Karl-Anthony Towns said. “Obviously, you have to stay positive, because this league doesn’t give a damn about us being upset or feeling depressed about ourselves.
“They’re going to kick you when you’re down, and they’re going to keep kicking you until you get up. We’ve got to get up.”
Shabazz Napier had his first career triple-double with 10 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds, but he felt no joy in it because, well, the Wolves lost. It was clear in his measured tone and determined look postgame how much another loss felt to Napier.
“For me personally, losing is just one of the hardest things for me to do,” Napier said. “It just disrupts everything in my life because basketball is my life. It is tough, but we’ve got a great group of guys.”
The Wolves have tried to stay positive, but the weight of that isn’t easy to bear.
Like snowflakes, each loss is special in its uniqueness. This time Towns scored 19 of his 37 points — except his teammates around him went just 1-for-13. So despite Towns’ blazing start, the Wolves were down 28-22 after one. Then came the third quarter, when Oklahoma City blitzed the Wolves 39-24 with Chris Paul scoring 13 of his 25 — including two off the technical fouls.
But while this loss was different, it had hallmarks of previous Wolves losses during this and an 11-game losing streak earlier this season. The Wolves dug themselves a hole (this time a 20-point third-quarter deficit) that was too big for them to come back from in the fourth, try as hard as they might.
“When we do win, everyone is happy,” said Andrew Wiggins, who had 22 points. “But when we lose — no one likes to lose — it hurts. So we got to get that feeling out and get back that positivity where we’re winning games.”
The Wolves have professed faith in Saunders and the systems they are running on offense and defense. So those hoping the Wolves will revamp their style of play may want to look elsewhere.
“It’s not the process or our game plan or the way they want us to play,” Napier said. “The way they want us to play is the right way. We just got to implement it better.”
With that, Napier said the Wolves have to execute better. It doesn’t help when a three-point volume team struggles to make threes like it did again Saturday (12-for-43, 28%). But Saunders said these losses are on everyone on the team, coaches and players.
“We all have to do more. Everybody,” Saunders said. “We don’t win games with one person. We don’t lose games with one person. So what that means is that everybody has to do their part.”
It has been awhile since the Wolves have seen what that looks like.