The question about the Timberwolves’ defensive play Wednesday night wasn’t even finished when Karl-Anthony Towns said, “We weren’t good.”

Nothing like getting to the point.

The Wolves’ defense didn’t make it to the Staples Center in their 128-101 loss to the Clippers, who shot 55 percent and doles out 36 assists.

They’ll have another chance against Oklahoma City on Friday, this time in front of a home crowd in their only preseason game at Target Center.

Perhaps the biggest question facing the Wolves as they head into the season likely without the services of Jimmy Butler, one of the best perimeter defenders in the NBA, is how the defense will look.

It was never great when Butler was in the lineup a season ago, and it was dreadful at times without him in there. Wednesday’s game was a continuation of the latter.

“We didn’t stop anything and gave them everything,” Towns said. “It’s up to us at the end of the day to get that done. But it’s preseason. We have to have games like this. We need tape like this where we say this is not the way to play. This is not the way we should execute or do anything like this if we expect to be a playoff team especially this year.”

It came as no surprise that coach Tom Thibodeau was less than pleased with the effort, especially after the starting unit allowed 34 points over the first 8 minutes, 30 seconds of the game.

“I knew the way the first quarter went was just too much, too easy,” Thibodeau said. “Then we came back and then we did the same thing again. So, you can’t win like that.”

Bates-Diop eye-opener

In each of the Wolves’ first two preseason games, rookie Keita Bates-Diop has found himself on the floor with four other starters.

On Wednesday, Thibodeau left Bates-Diop out there late in the second quarter with Towns, Derrick Rose, Jeff Teague and Taj Gibson after the rest of Bates-Diop’s benchmates came out.

Each time it has been a surreal moment for the Ohio State product and a reminder that he is now officially in the NBA.

“That’s definitely one of the moments where it hit me, being out with those guys,” Bates-Diop said. “I’m seeing veterans, Derrick Rose, his 10th year. ... I remember watching those guys and now I’m out there with them. It’s just a great moment.”

Bates-Diop continued to impress in his second game. He was 5-for-6 shooting for 11 points and four rebounds in 19 minutes of action.

“Even in his first game, he didn’t shoot the ball well but I thought he played well,” Thibodeau said of Bates-Diop, who shot just 1-for-9 but grabbed six rebounds in 22 minutes of the Wolves’ 114-110 victory over Golden State on Saturday night. “He knows when he should shoot, when he should pass. He’s trying to do the right things defensively. He’s very long. He can impact shots.”


• After not playing in the preseason opener against the Warriors, James Nunnally, C.J. Williams, Jared Terrell and Darius Johnson-Odom all got a few minutes Wednesday, with Nunnally scoring five points.

• The Wolves committed 18 turnovers against the Clippers and had just 12 assists.

• ESPN reported the Timberwolves are seeking forward Josh Richardson, center Bam Adebayo and a protected 2019 first-round NBA draft pick from the Heat in return for Butler.