After his team’s worst loss of the season, coach Tom Thibodeau said, again, that everything was going to be re-examined. That something was being missed. It’s got to change, he said.
A few minutes later, in an almost-silent locker room, Ricky Rubio was a bit more direct. Welcome to the new rock bottom. “We can lose a game because we haven’t done good things,’’ he said. “But tonight it was all over. Bad offense. Bad defense. We didn’t play with heart in the second half.’’
There it is.
Friday’s 117-90 loss to Detroit at Target Center was the worst of the season for a Wolves team that has now lost three straight and seven of eight. Once again it followed a familiar path. Minnesota was within three with four minutes left in the third quarter when the Wolves drove the car off the cliff. Less than two minutes into the fourth quarter that lead was 21.
Fans have seen all this before. But, perhaps for the first time, the postgame discussion included talk about attitude and energy, not just X’s and O’s.
Even Thibodeau talked around the subject, lamenting that the game became “low energy’’ in a second half in which the Pistons (13-12) shot 60 percent, made eight of 14 three-pointers and scored 68 points.
“You can’t pick and choose when to play hard,” Thibodeau said. “That has to be constant.’’
Led by Andre Drummond’s 22-point, 22-rebound performance, the Pistons got double-figure scoring from six players, outrebounded the Wolves 42-37, outscored them 42-9 on three-pointers and 38-32 in the paint.
Again, Rubio: “We can accept making mistakes. And not making shots. Missing an open guy. But playing with no heart, no desire, it’s just awful. Right now, it’s just bad.’’
All five starters scored in double figures for the Wolves (6-17), with Andrew Wiggins scoring 16, Karl-Anthony Towns and Zach LaVine 14 each.
The Wolves played reasonable defense while holding Detroit to 40.9 percent shooting in the first half, which ended with Detroit up 49-43.
But, ultimately, the Wolves defended neither the perimeter nor the paint.
Which is why Rubio kept bringing up heart. Or the lack of it.
“It’s not that things didn’t go the way we wanted,’’ he said. “We didn’t play with heart. It was a two-point game and suddenly it was a 25-point game. And it seems like we didn’t care.’’
And it didn’t seem like his teammates disagreed.
“We all looked lackadaisical,’’ LaVine said. “And we can’t let that happen. We got blown out at home, and it’s unacceptable. We’ve got to play as a team. We have to come out and give it all we’ve got. Because we have to get out of this hole. This is our job. Our passion. It’s about us.’’
Said Wiggins: “You’ve got to want it. You have to have a passion for the game.’’
And the Wolves have to find it in time for Sunday’s game with Golden State. But this time the challenge appears more difficult. It’s not just mistakes that need correcting. Perhaps it’s also attitude, the players suggested.
“Everything is on the table right now,” Thibodeau said. “We have a pretty good idea of where we want to go, and how we want to get there. So we have to look at everything.’’
For the players, that may include a peek into a mirror.
“It’s about us,” LaVine said. “We’re the ones on the court. I don’t think this is on [Thibodeau]. We’re the ones playing.’’