Timberwolves fall flat in loss to Thunder

The Timberwolves had displayed a number of positives since returning from the all-star break. They were getting good shots and defended, if nothing else, with more urgency.

They generally looked really to play each game and were in each competition. Then came Monday’s contest.

Minnesota was favored to beat the Thunder at Target Center. Oklahoma City lacks talent in general this season, and was severely undermanned and playing on the second half of a back to back.

The Wolves were coming off a competitive road trip against some of the League’s best competition, and seemed poised to enter a long homestand with momentum.

Instead, the Wolves came out with no sense of urgency and regressed mightily in a 112-103 loss to Oklahoma City.

“I was surprised,” Anthony Edwards said. “Surprised at my performance and surprised at my team’s performance, for sure.”

The Thunder played harder and executed better throughout.

“We couldn’t find it,” Edwards said. “We was playing sluggish. We was playing slow. We couldn’t find a spark. We were trying to, but we couldn’t find it.”

Still, Minnesota hung with Oklahoma City for much of the night on the basis of talent.

Karl-Anthony Towns finished with 33 points and 10 rebounds, but went just 10 for 28 from the field. Towns came out firing from the get-go, scoring 15 first-quarter points, but struggled to score in an efficient manner.

Towns has struggled with pain in his left wrist all season after returning after an elongated absence after dislocating the wrist in the second game of the season.

But the big said since returning, he’s never experienced more pain than Monday, when he took a shot to the wrist.

“Yeah, it got hurt pretty well in the game. I was in a lot of pain, for sure, especially when I came back here for halftime. It caused me a lot of discomfort, to say the least,” Towns said. “That’s no excuse to miss bunnies and shots I should make. Just because I’ve had this injury, if I didn’t feel like I was in a physical state to play, I wouldn’t play. If I step on that court and put my jersey on, then I am making a promise that I’m going to do everything I can, regardless of my condition to give them the best of me that night.”

Minnesota trailed by five at the half and seven at the end of three. And then Oklahoma City finally put Minnesota away, thanks to a barrage of triples in the final frame.

The Thunder (19-24) hit five triples in the fourth alone, and went 21 for 37 from deep for the game.

“They were just getting out and running, moving the ball early and got to the corners and we were flying at them, a bunch of re-positioned threes or throw it back to the next guy who was wide open,” Timberwolves coach Chris Finch said. “That’s the way we would like to play.”

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led the charge with 31 points and four assists for the Thunder. Oklahoma City blocked 10 shots.

Minnesota (10-33) made a mini-rally to get within six points in the final minute, but the surge stalled when Towns missed an open look from three that could’ve cut the deficit to one possession with 40 seconds to play.

Edwards had 16 points on 16 shots, and struggled mightily defensively. He was not on the court for that final rally — the first time in a long time the rookie didn’t close a tight contest for Minnesota.

“The team that was on the floor was making a little bit of a run, and it started with their defensive effort,” Finch said. “And so at that point in time, just got to ride it out.”

Whether it’s how Finch intended it or not, it was an opportune time to send a message to Edwards — if you aren’t going to put in any effort on the defensive end, there are others will.

Edwards was asked if he was OK with sitting out late.

“No, I wasn’t,” he said. “I wasn’t.”

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