It was a meaningless game against a team without their best player, so presumably the 19,356 people that showed up to the Target Center were there to see the new Minnesota Timberwolves logo. That might be a good thing in reality, because the Russell Westbrook-less Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Wolves 100-98.
“Low energy,” said head coach and president of basketball operations Tom Thibodeau. “They were big, so got behind quite a bit. The rebounding was problematic; reaction to the ball, we were lethargic.”
Minnesota got outscored 33-16 in the first quarter, and were down 56-43 at the half. Then they unveiled the new logo:
Or confirmed it, rather, since it had leaked earlier in the day. Still, the video was very well done. Narrated by Slug from Atmosphere, it features incredible shots of the Twin Cities, while taking the crowd through Timberwolves history: the Pooh Richardson/Bill Musselman/Timberpups era, the Kevin Garnett/Flip Saunders era and… well it had an image of Kevin Love and pretty much skipped past David Kahn and Jonny Flynn.
In fairness, the logo change was likely made to do just that — avoid associating the Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins and Thibodeau with Kaaaahhnnnnnnnnn!
This change is for the Purple One. For Malik. For Flip. The fans, and even the cynical media, loved it.
There was an easy narrative from here on out: the new logo is revealed, Minnesota comes back with inspired basketball and they win it in the end with a Wiggins jumper.
Well, two of those three things happened. The Wolves outscored the Thunder 29-15 in the third quarter, led late in the fourth… and then couldn’t make a stop down the stretch and Wiggins missed a shot at the buzzer.
“The same thing,” said Thibodeau, who saw his team lose to the Los Angeles Lakers on a buzzer-beater the game before. “We’re up, there’s 44 seconds to go, you don’t want to beat yourself, so you have to be disciplined. You don’t trick people, you just have to be sound.”
Minnesota was out-rebounded 54-35 and gave up 22 second-chance points.
“You gotta be ready for the physicality,” said Thibodeau, “and so the ball’s up on the board, you gotta be in a fight.”
The Wolves have now lost six of their past seven games going into their final contest at the Houston Rockets tomorrow. Asked if this tarnishes his perception of the team going forward, Thibodeau shook his head.
“You look at it in totality,” he said. “You don’t skip over anything. When the season’s over, you go through the whole season.”
It was a disappointing beginning to a makeover-inspired new era, but really the change begins next year. They’ll play in a renovated arena with new uniforms and presumably a revamped roster. One, they hope, that will get stops down the stretch.
Here is the Fox Sports North feed of Thibodeau’s post-game press conference:
Towns admitted that the team was lethargic in the beginning of the game and said things got out of control in the 4th quarter. “We just came out with low energy,” he said. “We started picking up energy in the second and third quarters. Fourth quarter we made it more of a bar fight, and we didn’t come out the winner.”
Wiggins was disappointed that the team couldn’t pull out a win in the team’s first final-game sellout since 1998. “This is a game we wanted to win,” he said. “A lot of fans came out. Sucks that we didn’t get a win for them.”