Wolves Lose Season Finale



Wolves Postgame Audio
Kevin McHale

Ryan Gomes

The curtain closed on Wednesday night as Sacramento defeated the Wolves 97-90 in the season finale at the Target Center.

"Well, we didn't go out the way we wanted to, didn't play very well. We missed a lot of shots, had a lot of opportunities around the rim," head coach Kevin McHale said.

Minnesota featured a starting lineup to highlight the hard work of several of the bench players. Jason Collins, Mark Madsen, Brian Cardinal, Mike Miller, and Kevin Ollie graced the floor for the opening tip.

Intriguing story lines led up to the contest tonight in addition to the season-opening game between the two teams. In mid-February the Wolves sent Calvin Booth and Rashad McCants to Sacramento in exchange for Shelden Williams and Bobby Brown. The true value of the trade will be assessed several years down the line after both teams decide on the future direction of their franchises.

However, tonight, McCants displayed the same type of mindset seen in the previous three years for Minnesota with a variety of shots from the perimeter. The 2005 first round draft pick of the Wolves finished with 14 points on 6-for-12 shooting from the field.

Randy Foye missed his ninth consecutive game due to a bruised hip that has bothered the shooting guard for the last month of the season. The absence of Foye in the lineup is just a microcosm of the massive injury issues that plagued Minnesota this season. Mike Miller, Foye, Craig Smith and Rodney Carney have all spent time on the bench for various health problems. And, of course, Al Jefferson and Corey Brewer were lost for the season.

The Wolves in uniforms on Wednesday night attempted to finish the year on a positive note. Smith showed aggressive play in the second quarter and finished with 18 points but was saddled with foul trouble throughout the second half.

"Craig was able to just manhandle them down there, and that's what you've got to do," McHale said. "Craig's been in the league a few years. Love will get there, I know Craig's first year he did the same thing. Everyone gets better."

Concluding a spectacular rookie campaign, Kevin Love passed Christian Lattner for the most double-doubles from a Wolves rookie. The first year man scored 12 points and grabbed 10 boards in the loss.

For Sacramento, Ike Diogu was again spectacular, just two nights removed from the 32-point performance against the Nuggets on Monday. Diogu pounded the ball inside the post and recorded 28 points and 13 boards.

Minnesota will head home for the summer tied with the fifth-best chance at snagging the No. 1 overall pick in the draft lottery. At 24-58, the Wolves are facing a busy offseason filled with question marks surrounding the general manager, coaching staff, and draft picks.

McHale did not address his decision on a return to the head coaching position next season.

"Well, we'll see what happens. I'm not going to answer any of those questions. We'll see what happens," McHale said.

The team remained upbeat while cleaning out the lockers for the final time this year as Wolves' fans can take solace in the fact this young squad will work for improvement in 2009-10.

Matt's Stats

Fan Reactions: "I'm looking forward to getting some more wins next year. It's been a tough year, but I think we can make a push for the playoffs next year." --Tom, 59, Mitchell, SD "Next year, I want to see them get the fans involved with exciting plays." --Chauntel, 26, Inver Grove Heights

-- The Wolves end the season with a 24-58 record, two games better than last season's 22-60 record. Minnesota ends the season with the second-lowest field goal percentage in the league and the fifth-worst field goal defense. They also produced the third-fewest steals per game, and gave up more blocked shots than any team save Charlotte. On a more positive note, they finished 12th in the league in rebounding, and fifth in offensive rebounding.

-- By grabbing his 10th rebound in the final minutes of the game, Kevin Love not only passed Christian Laettner as the Timberwolves player with the most double-doubles in a rookies season, he also finished the season with 29 double-doubles, the most of any rookie this season by 11.

-- Ike Diogu exploded for 28 points and 13 rebounds tonight after hardly scoring--or even playing--for much of the season for Sacramento. Diogu, who averaged 3.3 points per game this season, scored 60 points and grabbed 24 rebounds in his final two games of the season.

-- The Wolves' unorthodox starting lineup of Kevin Ollie, Mike Miller, Brian Cardinal, Mark Madsen, and Jason Collins have a combined 42 years of NBA experience between them.

-- The Wolves' loss isn't all bad news; with a Minnesota loss and a Memphis win, the Wolves increased their lottery chances of scoring the number one pick by 1.2 or 1.3 percent depending on a time-breaking coin flip with Memphis.

-- The Wolves finished the year 7-25 without Al Jefferson. --Matt Everhart