The Wolves definitely gave one away against the Nuggets. But the notion that Minnesota should win games like this is reason for hope.
The Minnesota Timberwolves should have beaten the Denver Nuggets on Monday night in Colorado. Hands down, no excuses: The Wolves absolutely gave it away against an inferior opponent as poor shooting, bad execution, and Martell Webster's boneheaded play late in the game sealed their fate in what should have been a pretty easy victory.
For those following the Wolves regularly this season or those who happened to catch Monday night's game, there's a good chance you couldn't agree more. But for those that happened to miss the Nuggets game, that first paragraph probably looks like Skip-Bayless-like, headline-grabbing hyperbole.
I mean, after all, it is the Minnesota Timberwolves we're talking about here -- of course they screwed up at the end.
The Wolves were on the road, playing their second game of a cross-country back-to-back against a team that's going to be in the Western Conference playoff race all season. How can it be such a letdown if all signs were already pointing to certain defeat?
Well ... take a glance at the box score. Don't get me wrong -- the Nuggets will be a tough out in 2012. The team that took the floor against the Wolves on Monday night, though? That wasn't the Nuggets. Not only were they less than 24 hours removed from a heartbreaking overtime loss to Oklahoma City, their roster was as depleted as Lindsay Lohan's IMDB page from 2009-present.
Danilo Gallinari? Gone. Nene? Nope. Rudy Fernandez? Forget about it. If that wasn't enough of an advantage for the Wolves, Ty Lawson went down with a first-half injury and Andre Miller got ejected in the third quarter, leading to something called a "Julyan Stone" receiving significant minutes for the Nuggets.
Through all of that, though, Minnesota was still able to grasp defeat from the jaws of victory in overtime. The team shot a miserable 36.4 percent from the field (including 6-for-27 from beyond the arc) and after Nikola Pekovic went down with an ankle injury, the Wolves showed that center depth really isn't one of their strong suits right now, either. And last, but certainly not least, Martell Webster made a key steal with under four seconds left in overtime -- yet inexplicably went in for a layup with his team down by three points.
In any other post-KG season, most fans would simply shrug last night's game off as "same old Wolves." But this year? We can (and should) actually be genuinely upset about it.
The Wolves aren't a mismatched bunch of scrubs and castoffs this season. This year, wins occur more frequently than full moons. This year, the bottom five of every NBA analyst's power rankings can't be dubbed "Wolves Weekly." People are finally giving a crap about hometown hoops again. And, if the Timberwolves are going to make the playoffs this year, they absolutely must win games like Monday night.
Read that last sentence again -- especially the first part. For the first time in way too long, the "P" word is being thrown around with the Timberwolves. They may not attain that goal in 2012, but it's pretty clear that they're at least on the precipice.
There's no doubt that Minnesota's loss in Denver was a bad one. But in the bigger picture, considering it such a bad loss is a good thing.