Patrick Beverley and Anthony Edwards stared down at the boxscore while giving their postgame remarks following the Timberwolves' 126-115 loss to the Clippers on Wednesday night. As they scanned the Clippers' scorching shooting numbers, their faces each gave the look of "What are you gonna do?"
Nicolas Batum, who was shooting 30% from three-point range, made six of eight threes. Reggie Jackson shot 7-for-9 from beyond the arc as Los Angeles broke out of what Beverley — who spent the past four seasons with the Clippers — said was a "historically bad" shooting slump in a big way.
The Wolves didn't have their best defensive effort of the season by a long shot and they didn't get any help from the Target Center rims, as the Clippers shot a striking 47 of 78 (60%) from the field and 21 of 36 (58%) from three-point range. That included a 17-for-20 performance during a 45-point third quarter as the Wolves lost their third consecutive after beating the defending champion Bucks last week.
"They're shooting Steph Curry numbers," Edwards said. "What you want us to do? I can't be mad. I got a smile on my face."
Added Beverley: "They were due for one. And [Wednesday] was the one."
The Wolves weren't just unlucky. Their defense slipped from a solid start to the season and allowed the Clippers to get into the paint and shred them with cutters and shooters, and the shooters made the Wolves pay for almost every open look. Paul George had 32 points. Jackson finished with 29 and Batum had 20. Edwards, who exited momentarily in the third after colliding knees with Clippers guard Eric Bledsoe, led the Wolves with 28. Beverley (10 points, 10 rebounds) also wasn't sweating the loss because the Wolves were without point guard D'Angelo Russell, who sat out because of an injured right ankle.
"You have your full team, we're really not talking about this," Beverley said. "This is also a good learning lesson for the guys who really don't play a lot. Kind of get them prepared for the long stretch. We've got 70-some games to go. I'm not worried about anything."
Edwards and Beverley are still relatively new to the Wolves, but Karl-Anthony Towns isn't, and his institutional scars gave him more concern about the Wolves' skid than Edwards and Beverley expressed.
"We're on a three-game slide right now in the NBA. If I know one thing about slides here in Minnesota, it could go from three to 18 to 19, 20 really quick," Towns said. "We got to put an end to that right now and we're going to have to put the work in, dive more into the work."
The Wolves were able to keep the game from getting out of hand thanks to 21 forced turnovers and cut a 15-point Los Angeles lead to 118-113 with 3 minutes, 19 seconds remaining. But the Wolves committed a few badly-timed turnovers in return while the Clippers hit a few too many shots.
Towns had 18 points on 6-for-16 shooting as he faced frequent double teams, sometimes even before catching the ball.
"We didn't have that physicality we usually play with," Towns said. "I think our first couple games you saw really gritty Wolves. I thought you see people who were really being physical, really up into the opponents and making life hell for them. Right now … we're taking steps back."
What went wrong on defense that had been going right? The Wolves didn't guard the ball as strongly as they could have, an adjustment they plan to make before playing the Clippers again Friday.
"We're just loose on the ball," coach Chris Finch said. "They didn't feel us and we were slipping out. Loose on our switches and loose on everything. We just lost our physicality."
The Clippers also hit shots, and a lot of them at that.