The last four losses for the Minnesota Timberwolves have come by a margin of four points or less, showing that they still cannot win the close one. Kevin Love is usually the teams go-to scorer — for better or worse — but on Wednesday night against the Phoenix Suns, it was Kevin Martin who was given the last shot in a 104-103 loss.
With just under four seconds left in the game, and down by one-point, Martin was open off the inbound pass and drove to the basket, drew some contact, and missed the contested layup. The Wolves previously had been giving Love the last shot in close games, but after he missed all three free throws in a close loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder last Saturday night, Rick Adelman decided to give Martin a chance at leading the team to victory.
The Timberwolves have really made it known that they start games strong and finish them poorly, but not winning a single close game in the past month isn’t good news for this playoff-hopeful squad. The closest Wolves victory in the past month was a seven-point win against the Philadelphia 76ers in early December, and since then, they have dropped five games by a margin of seven points or less.
This team knew they needed a go-to scorer coming into the season, which is likely the reason Adelman pushed to bring in the sharpshooting Martin. While Martin has done a great job being the team’s second scoring option this season, they still are in search of a player who can make the clutch shot. Love has shown troubles creating his own shot, despite the Wolves giving him plenty of opportunities, and so far, Martin hasn’t shown the ability to pick up the slack.
The Wolves did score more points in the second half (56) than in the first (47), but they continued to struggle closing out games, which could prove to be their Achilles heel. Great teams can close out close games, and the Timberwolves have shown recently that they simply don’t have the personnel to do so. A loss to the 21-13 Suns puts the Wolves under .500 once again and keeps them on the outside looking in when it comes to the current playoff picture.
This was a game the Wolves needed to and should have won, but the late-game shooting woes continue to derail this team, which shows so much potential some nights, but underperforms others. Five of the next six games for the Wolves are against teams at or below .500, meaning that they have the opportunity to make up for the numerous bad losses they have accumulated in recent weeks.