The Timberwolves horrid road swing ends with another loss, as they dropped their sixth game in nine tries, with a 109-104 loss to the Toronto Raptors.
1. Over this road swing, the Wolves were without Jimmy Butler for four of those games, the Wolves defense struggled mightily. Over the course of this seven of nine game on the stretch, giving up 112 points per game, including 120 twice, and nearly a third time when they gave up 118 to the Clippers on January 22. In this one, a similar trend continued as they played their worst defense in the fourth quarter. The Wolves gave up 31 points in the fourth quarter, and 32 in the second, as the Wolves were unable to put together two straight good defensive quarters in a row. The Wolves defense was great in the first, giving up 19 points, then gave up 27 in the third which is solid, but they couldn't do enough to bring in a win.
2. Free throw shooting also hurt the Wolves in this game, and that largely came from their third best free throw shooter...Jimmy Butler. Butler went 5-10 from the line, a far cry from his 87 percent season average. On the day, the Wolves went 15-24 from the line, which exacerbates the poor performance of Butler because he shot nearly half of the teams free throws and missed half of his attempts. Jeff Teague went 1-3, and Tyus Jones and Shabazz Muhammad went 1-2.
3. Lastly the Wolves couldn't control the paint. Yes, they grabbed 51 rebounds to the Raptors 47, but they allowed the Raptors to score 50 points in the paints as opposed to the Wolves 42. The Raptors shot 56.3 percent on shots in the paint, and in the fourth quarter, when things mattered the most they shot their most points in the paint, taking 11 shots, and making six. This is the opposite of what the Wolves did, as they took 10 three's or long two's in the fourth, They had to shoot the threes to make it back into this game after losing a two point lead at the beginning of fourth, but their inability to take the efficient "three's or lay-ups" route is a detriment to their offensive game.
1. The Wolves first quarter was phenomenal in this game. They went 11-20 from the field, scoring 27 points without making a three point shot, taking only one. Meanwhile they held the Raptors to only 19 points, as their three-point heavy attach floundered making only one of nine attempts in the quarter.
2. Speaking of three-point shooting, the Wolves had an above 40 percent night from the beyond the arc. The Wolves would make 5-12 threes, good for 41.7 percent, as Andrew Wiggins would hit one, Jeff Teague would hit one, Butler would go 2-3, and Nemanja Bjelica hit one as well.
3. The Wolves did a good job of limiting turnovers in this game as they turned the ball over only eight times in the game.
The Wolves mercifully are at home on Thursday night at 7, as they welcome their neighbors to the east, the Milwaukee Bucks led by Giannis Antetokounmpo and the return of Jabari Parker from a season long injury.