Friday marked a new low for Minnesota in this young NBA season.
It’s one thing to get blown out in consecutive games at Staples Center by Western Conference title contenders like the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers.
It’s quite another to get rocked by a previously winless Wizards team playing on the second night of a back to back, without Russell Westbrook.
Washington outscored Minnesota 40-14 in the third quarter en route to a 130-109 win at Target Center. The victory moved the Wizards to 1-5.
Meanwhile, there’s a strong argument to be made that when the Wolves (2-3) don’t have Karl-Anthony Towns, they might be the worst team in basketball.
It’s tough to build a case that suggests otherwise. After winning consecutive games to start the season with their all-star center, the Wolves have now lost three straight — all by 21-plus points.
Minnesota has surrendered 100-plus points in the first three quarters of each of those contests — a first in franchise history.
Friday night posed itself as a get right game for Minnesota. The Wizards are bad. They just lost consecutive games to a fellow cellar dweller in Chicago. Yet they looked like a juggernaut in Minneapolis.
The Wolves “contended” with Washington for the first 24 minutes. The Wizards built an early lead, but a strong stretch of play late in the half from Jake Layman and Naz Reid was enough to trim Minnesota’s deficit to three at the break.
But the third quarter was a different story. Washington continued to drain open looks, and Minnesota couldn’t get out of its own way. The Wizards led by as many as 37 points.
Washington, Timberwolves coach Ryan Saunders said, played like a team that was desperate. His team did not, even though he felt like it should have.
“Guys coming into work and when you lose a player like KAT and even a player of Josh’s heart and the spirit that he has, you’re trying to find it other places as teammates,” Saunders said. “When things get tough, sometimes it can be tough to find that. And these games come quick. We gotta find it.”
Bradley Beal was hands-down the best player on the floor, finishing with 31 points, seven assists and three rebounds. Eight Wizards finished in double figures as they shot 55 percent from the floor and 49 percent from deep.
Minnesota currently can’t contain elite guards nor match up with opposing size.
The defense is non-existent. The offense is in shambles, with no identity or strength to fall back on. Twenty Wolves turnovers Friday led to 33 points for Washington. Minnesota assisted on just 17 of its 42 makes.
Malik Beasley led the way in scoring (21 points) and effort, but didn’t receive much in the way of help. It was another extraordinarily average showing from D’Angelo Russell.
There is nothing positive to build off at the moment for coach Ryan Saunders and Co.
Jarred Vanderbilt once again shined in garbage time, collecting six points and four rebounds in 12 minutes. His strong play in limited action hasn’t yet led to a spot in the rotation, but perhaps that will soon change. Nothing should be out of the question at this point.
“We’re trying to find something. We’re mixing and matching guys in the lineup. you’re trying to find something that fits. and we haven’t found that yet. we’ll figure it out,” Saunders said. “There are guys playing, maybe, more than they should, and guys maybe playing less than they should. So we’ll figure it out.”
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