All that really matters is where the roller coaster ends, right?
So, Saturday night, after a neck-breaking series of momentum shifts rocked Chesapeake Energy Arena, after the Timberwolves had alternately looked overwhelmed and overwhelming, the way it ended was familiar:
In a loss.
In the second half of back-to-back games at Oklahoma City, the Wolves lost 120-118 when Naz Reid's attempt in the paint to force overtime wouldn't fall.
It was a difficult end to a game that is difficult to categorize. Do you focus on the lack of defense that allowed the Thunder to score 83 first-half points?
Ryan Saunders did. "That first half just wasn't an acceptable half of basketball," the Wolves coach said.
Or do you linger on a second half, which began with Reid scoring the Wolves' first 11 points during a 32-13 third quarter, then was followed by a 12-4 start to the fourth that included two three-pointers by Jake Layman that had the Wolves up by six?
Reid couldn't. "Sometimes we just have our moments," said Reid, who scored 29 points, 21 in the second half. "We're not good enough to have our moments. We have to be on our P's and Q's for the entire game."
Or do you end up with the 16-10 finish to the game by the Thunder, with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander — who missed Friday's game — scoring seven? It was Darius Bazley's basket with 1:16 left that put the Thunder up 120-118. After that: aReid turnover, a missed open corner three-pointer from Layman and Reid's miss at the end.
"You have to ask," Saunders said. "'Did we deserve to win that one?' Giving up 83 in a half, you don't do your work early enough. You just dig yourself a hole. I'm happy with the effort in the second half. But that first half just wasn't acceptable."
But what entertainment. The Thunder (10-12) — which got 31 points from Gilgeous-Alexander and 22 off the bench from Roseville's Mike Muscala, all in the first half — was unstoppable before halftime, shooting better than 60%. Oklahoma City players drove for easy scores or were fouled. They dished to open threes, making 10 of 19, as the Thunder led by as many as 23 points.
But, unlike some other games this season, the Wolves — who were playing without Friday night hero D'Angelo Russell — didn't give in. After what sounds like a strident halftime talk by Saunders, they came out strong in the third quarter, led by Reid, Anthony Edwards (20 points) and Malik Beasley (17).
From the start of the third quarter until Layman put the Wolves up six, the Wolves had a 44-17 run.
But it didn't stick. And now the Wolves (6-17), with one more game left on their five-game road trip, have to figure out how to do what they did in the second half Saturday for an entire game.
"A lot of things were said," Saunders said of halftime. "I mean, I think anybody here that's around the team knows they can respond. Unfortunately, with young teams, sometimes it happens where you need to light 'em up a little bit. I'm glad they responded. But I'm not happy with the first half."
After a Thunder miss, the Wolves called timeout with 5.2 seconds left. They got the ball to Reid, who had the option to try to score or to kick it out for a three. He opted to try for the score.
"I felt as though it was going in," Reid said. "It felt good. I thought I did everything right."
The Star Tribune did not travel for this game. This article was written using the television broadcast and video interviews after the game.