The drama has not been distracting, they insisted after the game, in quiet voices, in a quiet locker room, after the worst loss of the Tom Thibodeau era.
Friday night at the Target Center, against the undefeated, long, lean and fast Milwaukee Bucks, in front of a crowd announced at 16,334 that went from subdued to stunned to sullen, the Wolves came out flat, then got steamrolled 125-95. Minnesota missed its first 11 shots, then allowed a flailing offense to affect the defense.
The result: the first time the Wolves have lost by 30 or more points since losing by 48 in New Orleans in November 2014.
“We didn’t make shots early,’’ Thibodeau said. “I thought that took away from our defensive energy. And they made threes. And we left ’em open.’’
Call those CliffsNotes.
Or, even briefer: “We just dropped an egg today,’’ said Karl-Anthony Towns.
Yes, by just about any measure. The Wolves’ 16 points in the first quarter, 22 in the second, 36 at the half and 95 total were all season lows. The Wolves took a franchise record 43 three-point shots but made just 10.
On the other side? The Bucks made 19 of 46 threes and 49 of 92 shots overall. Both percentages were highs by a Wolves opponent this seasons, as was the Bucks’ made threes.
This game was a problem from the beginning. There was an obvious lack of energy, which led to the Wolves’ second straight loss and their first at home.
By the time the Wolves left the floor down 25 at halftime the boos, which were again heard during Thibodeau’s pregame introduction, were raining down on the entire team.
“The fans, they come, they’re paying good money to be here,’’ Thibodeau said. “They have the right to voice their opinion. We certainly appreciate the fans supporting the team. What we have to do is control the things we can control. And that’s putting everything we have into each and every day. When we do that we’ll have a team that, I think, will be successful.’’
But Friday another slow start meant a hole the Wolves couldn’t escape.
Down 11 after a quarter, that deficit ballooned at the half and expanded to as much as 34 in the second half.
Jimmy Butler, added to the injury report at midday because of an illness, suited up but made just two of 11 shots and scored four points. The starters — sans injured Andrew Wiggins for a second straight game — were a combined 17-for-56, with only Towns’ and Taj Gibson’s third-quarter effort standing out.
Towns finished with 16 points and Derrick Rose had 14 off the bench. The Wolves reserves outscored the starters 56-39.
The Bucks, off to their best start since 1971, got 16 points from Khris Middleton and Ersan Ilyasova and 15 points and 12 rebounds from Giannis Antetokounmpo. Ten Bucks made at least one three-pointer.
“It wasn’t a good game at either end of the floor,’’ Butler said. “Horrendous. They did what they were supposed to do. There’s not too much we can say about it. You saw the outcome of the game. The energy of the game.’’
Or the lack thereof.
“We let our offense dictate what our defense was going to do,’’ Butler said. “Speaking for myself, I can never let that happen. My entire career has always been my defense dictates my offense. So, bad one.’’
And now the Wolves have two days before LeBron James and the Lakers come to town.
“I want us to learn from it,’’ Thibodeau said. “It’s disappointing. Tomorrow we have to have a will and determination to correct it. We got into it together, we have to get out of it together.’’