After he missed two free throws, a layup and a couple of jump shots late in Tuesday’s 104-99 collapse at Utah, Timberwolves veteran forward Thaddeus Young turned to assistant coach Sam Mitchell and lamented something about having “one of those years” this time around.
Maybe he chose his words precisely and specifically meant the year and not this season.
Maybe one of those years ended with 2014 and the stroke of midnight Thursday.
“Yeah,” Young said, “I hope so.”
He was acquired from Philadelphia in August’s three-way Kevin Love trade for a 2015 first-round pick — originally Miami’s and top-10-protected in 2015 and ’16 — that looks better with every Heat loss for his veteran’s presence and ability to start in Love’s power-forward spot.
He left Philadelphia believing he had left a shipwreck for a chance to win and make the playoffs again and yet now finds himself on a team that with three fellow starters injured has lost nine consecutive games and 15 of its past 16 and has won just one more game (five) than his former team.
He blamed himself after Tuesday’s defeat, one in which the Wolves led by 10 points with 9½ minutes left and by eight points with 4:23 left. Afterward, he said, “I definitely take that one.”
After practice back in Minneapolis on Wednesday, somebody told Young that he was tough on himself the night before.
“I’m very hard on myself at all times,” said Young, an eight-year veteran who’s still just 26 years old. “I just want to help us win basketball games, and if I can help put us in a position to win basketball games, that’s great.
“Last night, I felt like I didn’t do the best job at that. I missed two free throws, missed a couple jump shots. You’ve got to knock those down. Those are the easy shots I usually make.
“I’m always going to be hard on myself. That’s just who I am.”
Tuesday’s game continued Young’s recent troubles with missed free throws. He missed two with 2:12 left that could have answered the Jazz after it had just taken a lead it never relinquished.
“I’m not sure,” Young said Tuesday night when asked if he’s thinking too much at the free-throw line.
“I was just telling Sam, I’m just having one of those years. Every player has a year where he can’t make free throws, where jumpers are not falling. It’s just one of those years, and I have to get past it.”
Young remembers having “one of those years” his third NBA season, when, he said, “everything was going wrong.”
Wolves coach Flip Saunders suggested Young is a player who works best playing off teammates and his game suffers from being asked to do more himself without injured Ricky Rubio, Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Martin.
“We’re asking him to play and really fill a role that’s probably really uncomfortable for him,” Saunders said. “But we’re asking a lot of guys to fill roles that they’re uncomfortable with. What happens when you’re filling a role where you’re uncomfortable and there’s a change, you should become in time better at it.”
Young isn’t sure he agrees with Flip’s thesis.
“I wouldn’t say that,” Young said. “I know what I have to do when I go out there each and every day. I think I’m fully prepared and ready to step up to the task each and every night we have a basketball game.”
Rubio, Pekovic and Martin all were on the floor during Wednesday’s practice, each doing something for the first time since all three were injured.
Saunders said Martin likely will return the soonest, as soon as he feels comfortable shooting three-point shots. Martin’s due to be re-evaluated next week.
“For some reason, he woke up today and said his hand just felt great and didn’t have a lot of pain or anything,” Saunders said. “We’ll just have to wait and see.”
Saunders said he has talked to Martin about playing in the D League to get himself back in game shape. He has spoken about doing the same with Pekovic when he’s ready to play again.
Staff writer Dennis Brackin contributed to this story.