Minnesota Timberwolves Losing in the Clutch

Minnesota TimberwolvesThere is a common theme going on with the Minnesota Timberwolves this season; they keep losing the “clutch” factor in the final seconds. Rick Adelman’s words at the end of the game tonight against the Phoenix Suns pretty much just summed it up.

“We just kind of gave it away,” he said.”handed it away.”

Ricky Rubio was having steady night closing in on a triple-double when he made two costly mistakes to allow the Suns right back into the game in the final moments of the last quarter.The Timberwolves’ shooting didn’t help matters for them, at only 39% from the field. Kevin Love connected with four of 20 shots, while Pekovic went six for 16.

When their two big men in the paint aren’t performing at their best, the Timberwolves are left vulnerable for the taking. The Suns took the game away tonight. Ricky Rubio couldn’t defend Goran Dragic when it counted. Pekovic and Love couldn’t keep the Suns off the offensive glass when they needed to. The fact that Kevin Martin couldn’t make the clutch shot when the final seconds ticked off was the final straw in the Minnesota Timberwolves loss.

Yes, the TImberwolves went to Kevin Martin to take the last shot.  It was not Kevin Love. Why the Wolves didn’t go to their MVP candidate in the final seconds was beyond the understanding of most everyone watching. Even if Love was having a poor shooting night, he’s the star player; the franchise player. He’s made the shots for the Timberwolves before and most people are sure he will again. In this game, for some unknown reason, the rock went to Martin when the chips were down.

In the Wolves defense, this might have been one of the worst shooting nights Love has had this season. Nothing would just go down for him. Officials irritated him early, nailing him with fouls, including a technical foul, before the half. Even so, with the time ticking down on the clock and the game on the line, the Timberwolves can’t run away from getting it into the MVP’s hands to let him be the man when clutch time comes.

It is difficult to imagine how a team like the Timberwolves can lead the game by nine points with just over four minutes to go and not be able to close the game out when they need it the most. Many factors may contribute to their inability to finish out a game. Their bench hasn’t been as deep as it was tonight due to injuries, leaving starters fatigued at the end of games. It might be believable  that they are being out-coached if it were not Rick Adelman running the show.

In frustrated jest, fans want to blame it on the commercial that keeps airing on ESPN about Kevin Love’s “Love” line, that maybe he’s getting too many phone calls distracting him from the task on hand. The search for excuses borders on the absurd. All jokes aside though, the Timberwolves need to figure this out and quickly, if they are going to sneak into the playoffs. Could be that the call Love needs to make might be to his former teammate from the Olympic team, LeBron James, for some advice on how to get over the hump.

George Washington once said,” It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one.”  The bottom line is that no excuse for losing will get the Minnesota Timberwolves to the promised land. It will take finding their clutch, and shifting gears.

By Justin Huffman

Charlotte Observer

Pioneer Press

USA Today