Karl-Anthony Towns shook his head and often looked away from the camera as he spoke following the Timberwolves' 135-102 drubbing at the hands of the Hornets.
If there was a way for a 33-point loss to seem even more lopsided than it was, that's what it felt like sitting inside Target Center on Wednesday night.
The accumulation of all that has happened this season — injuries to Towns and D'Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley's suspension, COVID absences, fourth-quarter collapses and a coaching change — looked like it weighed the Wolves down with concrete blocks.
Towns has endured a lot of losing, and a lot of losing leads to players potentially wanting out of their situation, and Towns has been the topic of such rumors for a while, despite public pledges that he's here for the long term.
Towns was asked again Wednesday how patient he could be as the Wolves try to rebuild under Gersson Rosas and new coach Chris Finch. His response wasn't too reassuring.
"Thank God for the [All-Star] break," Towns said. "That's really it. Recharge the battery."
To say the Wolves are limping into the All-Star break is to imply they still are able to propel themselves forward at least a little bit with their own momentum.
The Wolves are dragging themselves along sandpaper as they enter a weeklong break.
“I definitely recognize regression. I definitely see regression. It's on us as players. ... If we don't want to fix the problem we'll come out having these losses again”
Finch, who is in his second week on the job and is 0-5, made clear that the getting-to-know-you-phase of his tenure was over after that second half in which Charlotte outscored the Wolves by 27 and led by as many as 38 behind Terry Rozier's 31 points.
Finch has said he doesn't usually like to say much to the team after a loss. He said something Wednesday.
"I basically told them that it was unacceptable, that we have to regroup after the break," Finch said.
"It will be a whole new reality. We're going to tighten it up, and we're going to find the guys that want to compete. If that's a shorter rotation, then so be it."
Towns, who had 16 points and 15 rebounds, likes to look at a boxscore when delivering his postgame comments. It wasn't a pleasant sight for him Wednesday, and was indicative of his frustration with where the Wolves are at after they lost their ninth straight to fall to 7-29.
"We ain't executing, and I'm tired of looking at the boxscore and looking at all the numbers … and talking about the same thing — how we haven't won or oh, we've got to do this and do that," Towns said. "Obviously, what we said hasn't worked. We've got to go back to the drawing board and make the plan work and just see what happens."
Finch will have some more time to install his plans after the break, there will also be time for the Wolves to unplug after an emotional 10 days following Ryan Saunders' firing and Finch's hiring. Sometimes coaching changes provide temporary jolts of energy to a team. This one just seemed to sap the Wolves.
"As long as we come back with the right mind-set then it's beneficial," Finch said. "But if we come back with a similar mind-set, [Wednesday's] performance was absolutely unacceptable from a competitive spirit point of view and just overall execution and performance."
The Wolves had 21 turnovers, which led to 27 Charlotte points. Towns could see that on his boxscore. He hasn't seen much improvement over the course of the season.
"I definitely recognize regression," Towns said. "I definitely see regression. It's on us as players.
"We got to be better. We just got to take this break and take a long look at all of ourselves and say we want to fix the problem. If we don't want to fix the problem we'll come out having these losses again."
There have been plenty of these kinds of losses this season. Even though the playoffs are out of reach, there's more than enough incentive for the Wolves to turn it around the rest of the season — their star player may not be able to stomach too many more nights like Wednesday.