Even though the Timberwolves led for most of three quarters on Monday night, a familiar and lingering sense of dread was in the air above Target Center, even though Halloween has passed.
That fear echoes back in the Wolves collective mind to say anything that could go wrong, and although it was largely absent in the first five games, it came back strong in a 115-97 loss to the Orlando Magic.
Wolves have plans to jump into the play-in tournament this season. Monday showed they might not have taken off.
The same Wolves team that beat defending champion Bucks on the road also lost at home to the Pelicans and Magic, who won a combined game against opponents other than Wolves. Few teams with plans to make the playoffs allow this to happen. Wolves have lost two in a row.
“I feel like we’re still stuck on the Milwaukee game,” said guard Anthony Edwards. “I feel like that’s our problem right now. We came out of there with a win and we think we’re good now. It’s just a game.”
The Magic now 2-6 moved away in a 43-19 fourth quarter in which Wolves (3-3) seemed resigned to losing, even though they held a lead of six points at the start of the quarter.
Their defense, which has otherwise been a bright spot this season, offered little resistance as Orlando caught fire from the outside, especially Cole Anthony, who scored a high 31 points and clocked his first four. quarterback shots. Later, Franz Wagner (28 points) hit a pair of threes and his brother Moe rocked the crowd with a thunderous dunk on Jarred Vanderbilt to mark the unofficial end of the night.
“Everyone was done,” Edwards said. “I told them when I checked in at about eight minutes, ‘Let’s get the energy.’ Everyone seemed sad.
“Like, the game ain’t over, bruh.”
The Wolves had already made up their minds.
“It was one of those situations where our lack of shooting affects our defensive intensity,” said coach Chris Finch. “We can’t have that. We played a really good defense no matter what is happening on the pitch. [Monday] we kind of let go of the rope there. “
The Wolves, who were already without Patrick Beverley (left calf pain), lost goalkeeper D’Angelo Russell (1 on 8, three points) due to a right ankle injury at halftime. Finch said he now knows how long Russell could be out. The offense floundered this season with Russell and was directionless with him playing the first half. Finch said the offense is “not performing at a high level” but believes Wolves look good. They shot 37% overall, 14 of 51 three-pointers.
BOXSCORE: Orlando 115, Timberwolves 97
Karl-Anthony Towns, who favored his right thumb for most of the night, had 23 points on 17 attempts with 16 rebounds. Edwards had 24 of 10 for 22 shots, while former Minnehaha Academy star Jalen Suggs had 15 for Orlando on his return home.
“It’s funny that the fourth quarter is what we’re fighting for and it’s the one thing we never got to achieve in the preseason,” said Towns. “First games, viable opponents, great opponents, but we never got to the fourth quarter. It seems like every time we have a game in the fourth quarter, we struggle a lot. “
After their first bad loss to the Pelicans, Edwards set a bossy tone and said he, Russell and Towns need to be better. On Monday he was not so bothered and said the shots would fall. But he felt the Wolves were too high on themselves and Monday was a reality check.
“I feel like we have swag, but we have too much swag right now,” Edwards said. “We think we’ve done something. We haven’t done anything.”
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