DALLAS – As their coach says, young teams find ways to lose and so the Timberwolves did again Wednesday, losing another double-digit lead and ultimately the game 106-94 in overtime after things went wrong at almost every turn down the stretch.
And to hear them tell it afterward, the Wolves would do it all again.
“That’s how we have to play every night,” Wolves interim head coach Sam Mitchell said after his team lost for the 23rd time in its past 28 games.
Disappointed with how his players stopped passing the ball in Tuesday’s loss at New Orleans, Mitchell praised their improvement in that area, their competitiveness and young stars Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, who carried their team to victory’s edge only to watch Dallas forward Chandler Parsons make like Dirk Nowitzki in the game’s final minutes.
Leading 84-74 with fewer than seven minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Wolves were outscored 32-10 the rest of the way as the Mavericks won their fourth consecutive home overtime game.
With Nowitzki sidelined by a swollen knee, Parsons played stand-in, scoring a season-high 30 points that included five points in the fourth quarter’s closing minutes and seven more in a lopsided 17-5 overtime.
Afterward, Parsons said he and his teammates made the decision to “have a stronger will not to lose this game,” while the Wolves did what Mitchell says young teams do, this time with a combination of untimely turnovers, missed shots, a flagrant foul that gave the Mavericks two free throws and the ball, and Shabazz Muhammad’s potential winning shot that came too late at fourth quarter’s end.
All of it left undone Towns’ 27-point, 17-rebound, six-block performance that otherwise would have been the night’s discussion.
“It don’t mean nothing,” Towns said. “It don’t mean nothing because again we got an ‘L.’ This performance don’t mean anything.”
It meant something to Mitchell, who asked both Towns and Wiggins to carry his team to the end.
“I don’t even know what to say, for a 20-year-old in his 44th game,” Mitchell said. “My young guys, they’re going to learn how to win these games. The ball is in their hands at the end of the game. They’re going to learn to make plays.”
On Wednesday, the ball most notably was in Muhammad’s hands with the outcome in doubt. He missed three three-point shots in the fourth quarter’s final 3 ½ minutes, any one of which might have turned the game. The last one came in a scoreless final 85 seconds when Mavericks guard Wes Matthews’ desperation shot as the clock ticked away missed.
Muhammad grabbed the rebound with fewer than four seconds left. He attempted to dribble the length of the court and score by attacking the rim, but didn’t get the shot off in time. Afterward, he blamed himself for the loss.
“I feel like I could have won us the game,” he said. “I’m disappointed I didn’t make any shots and I should have known time on the clock. I take this loss on myself … I didn’t see the clock. That was my fault. I’ve got to be more aware. That’s just something that’s inexcusable for myself. I’m pretty disappointed about that.”