Winning tends to remedy bad optics. But losing always exacerbates them. The Minnesota Timberwolves were desperate for a victory versus the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Play-In Tournament. Not just because it would mean formal entrance to the postseason, but so the team could regain an air of competence after a drama-filled last couple days.
Minnesota led for most of the game before going ice cold in the fourth quarter. A frenetic end to regulation gave way to overtime, but the Wolves ran out of gas for good. The 102-108 road defeat means that they will need to vanquish the winner of the Oklahoma City Thunder and New Orleans Pelicans. A stinging loss like this, though, makes it hard to look ahead.
Star center Karl-Anthony Towns, who had 24 points and 11 rebounds in 41 minutes despite battling foul trouble, did his best to keep it together postgame while sharing his thoughts.
“It’s difficult when you leave without a win and you feel you played good enough to win,” Towns said.
“It’s difficult when you leave without a win and you feel you played good enough to win.”
Karl-Anthony Towns after scoring 24 points in the loss to the Lakers. #RaisedByWolves | #NBA pic.twitter.com/wZCOM80hSS
— Bally Sports North (@BallySportsNOR) April 12, 2023
The Timberwolves did not score for nearly the last six minutes of the game until a baffling Anthony Davis foul bailed them out. Temporarily, at least. Towns did unleash some frustration at the postgame press conference, accusing the Lakers of flopping on a couple of his foul calls. He did not have the same impact in the second half, and perhaps five total fouls played into that.
It has been a trying season for the All-NBA Third Teamer. He missed more than 50 games with a calf injury before returning for the final stretch. He and Minnesota could have benefited from having Rudy Gobert down low late in the game, but the French big man was suspended by the team for punching teammate Kyle Anderson earlier in the week. Jaden McDaniels was also unavailable after punching a wall in a very untimely act of rage.
With the continued growth of Anthony Edwards and possibly consecutive playoff appearances, this franchise appeared to be turning a corner. After this latest mishap, they are on the verge of being engulfed by an avalanche of disappointment and dysfunction.
Regardless of outcome, their week to forget ends Friday.
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