Author: Marcus Fuller
Timberwolves fall flat in 96-84 loss to Miami The Minnesota Timberwolves had just pulled within five points against the Miami Heat after a 7-0 run when Kevin Garnett seemed to sense his team was losing momentum after giving up a basket.
Garnett yelled out "Come on!" trying to get his teammates energized again.
Instead, the Wolves did the opposite, going lifeless during a four-minute stretch that led to a insurmountable deficit and a 96-84 loss to the Miami Heat on Thursday night in front of 11,794 at Target Center.
After showing major signs of improvement in a 2-0 start in road games, Wolves interim coach Sam Mitchell's team is regressing in the last two home losses to Portland and Miami.
"I just thought we started pressing when the ball didn't go in early," Mitchell said. "It's just a young basketball team learning how to play basketball. The thing that I laugh about every day is that they think they know how to play. That's the toughest things with the kids today. They think they know how to play. It's just going to take a certain amount of failure before they realize you're not going to reinvent this game."
Minnesota (2-2) shot just 35 percent from the field, but the starters were 27 percent (11 for 41).
The Heat (3-2) shot 49 percent from the field Thursday with all five starters in double figures, led by Dwyane Wade's 25 points. Chris Bosh and Hassan Whiteside combined for 28 points and 21 rebounds in the front court.
For the second straight game, Kevin Martin led the Wolves in scoring by tying Shabazz Muhammad with 14 points off the bench.
Gorgui Dieng also had 10 points.
The Wolves' bench outscored the starters 55-29.
"I think we didn't move the ball," Muhammad said. "I think we were playing selfish out there."
Not only is Minnesota struggling with ball movement, but its starters are going through an identity crisis. Ricky Rubio and Karl-Anthony Towns each had 28-point performances in the first two games, but nobody has stepped up to lead with their lack of production in the losses.
Rubio, who appeared sick in the second half, had just nine points with five assists Thursday in 24 minutes. Towns had a season-low six points on 3-for-13 shooting with four rebounds and three blocks. Minnesota was minus-21 with Towns.
"Easily got the shots I wanted, got them in sweet spots, shots you're accustomed to seeing me make," Towns said. "Tonight they didn't fall. ... I always have a motto, if it's going in and out one night, it's the next opponent that should be worried."
Opponents won't be too concerned about Andrew Wiggins hurting them at shooting guard. Mitchell's experiment to switch him from small forward doesn't appear to be working.
Wiggins' best play of the night came when he dunked the ball off an impressive spin move in the lane in the fourth quarter. The problem was that only cut the Heat's lead to 93-74. Wiggins finished with just 12 points on 5-for-18 shooting. He's shooting 10 for 36 in the past two games.
"The first four games I've missed a lot of easy shots," Wiggins said. "I know they'll start falling eventually."
Minnesota pulled to within 55-50 on a basket by Wiggins with 7:12 left in the third quarter. The Heat answered with a 12-1 run, which included six points from Goran Dragic, to take a 67-51 lead.
Mitchell played veteran point guard Andre Miller for the first time this season in the fourth quarter. He also tried to shake up the rotation by inserting forward Adreian Payne for the first time since the season-opening win over the Los Angeles Lakers.
Payne, who had nine points and six rebounds in 13 minutes, helped the Wolves take the lead in the second quarter. But Wade's steal on Rubio and a halfcourt shot at the buzzer was a sign of things to come.
Wolves Press Clippings
Outlet: Pioneer Press
Author: Marcus Fuller
Timberwolves: Sam Mitchell still big fan of Chris Bosh It's definitely not lost on Sam Mitchell that Chris Bosh had a lot to do with why he won the NBA coach of the year award in 2007 with the Toronto Raptors.
Mitchell, the Minnesota Timberwolves' interim coach, remembered Bosh for more than just being an emerging superstar during his stint in Toronto.
"Just an extraordinary young man," he said. "You hear so many times about superstars and how difficult it is to coach them. He was totally the opposite. He was just the best. He was a true professional. Came to work on time every day. He practiced hard every day. He was an unbelievable, unselfish teammate. All the good things that happened in Toronto, coaching him was up there among those things, because he just made your job easy."
Bosh, who played with the Miami Heat against the Wolves on Thursday night at Target Center, was named an all-star starter for the first time in 2007. He averaged 22.6 points and 10.7 rebounds during the regular season to lead the Atlantic Division champions.
"He'll always have a special place in my heart," Mitchell said.
Mitchell was fired early in the 2008-09 season after two straight first-round exits in the playoffs, but he remained close with Bosh, who eventually left for the Heat in 2010.
Bosh won two NBA titles teaming with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, but things got scary after the Big Three split last season.
After the 2015 All-Star Game, Bosh had to be admitted to the hospital.
He later was diagnosed with a blood clot in his lungs, which caused him to miss the rest of the season.
In the season opener last week against Chicago, Bosh made his return to post 21 points and 10 rebounds in a win.
"You hate to see bad things happen to good people," Mitchell said. "Chris experienced something life-threatening. We were all praying for him. We all know bad things happen to good people. In this one instance, he got over it and got past it. I'm just happy to see him back. He's such a good guy and loves playing. ... It would've been tragic for him not to be able to play again."
Wolves rookie Tyus Jones was inactive for the fourth straight game Thursday night, but he met up for the first time in an NBA game with a former Duke teammate. Heat rookie Justise Winslow, who won a national title last season with Jones. Winslow averaged 5.3 points and 4.5 rebounds entering the game.