Morris' Buzzer-Beater Sinks Wolves, 91-89

Morris' Buzzer-Beater Sinks Wolves, 91-89

Mark Remme
Wolves Editor/Writer

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Robbie Hummel sat at his spot in the Wolves locker room, visibly disappointed with the way Monday’s game played out against the Phoenix Suns at the Thomas & Mack Center. And it wasn’t just the fact that Minnesota dropped a 91-89 decision to the Suns—more so, the circumstances.

The Wolves once held a 24-point lead and led by 11 with 3:28 to play, but 6-of-9 shooting and made free throws down the stretch—including Marcus Morris’ game-winning buzzer beater—were too much for Minnesota to overcome.

“It’s a serious thing,” Hummel said. “In my mind, it’s an NBA game. I don’t care if it’s Summer League. I don’t care what it is. You’re playing an NBA team, with guys that play in the NBA. It’s important to close games out. The last two we haven’t done that.”

That’s been the trend in these first two Summer League contests for the Wolves—Minnesota brings the energy early but can’t find a way to sustain it throughout. They had the same issue with the D-League Selects on Saturday, as the more experienced D-Leaguers hit shots and got stops down the stretch.

Philosophically, there’s a balance here that the Wolves are walking. Yes, they want to win every game and feel that disappointment in defeat. But Summer League coach David Adelman is also looking to capitalize on these moments, using them to help this young group work through their growing pains and, ultimately, the goal is to be prepared for bigger and more important games down the road having fought through them.

They’re taking their lumps right now, particularly watching that 24-point lead slip away on Monday night. The Wolves started out incredibly hot, hitting 64.7 percent of their shots in the first quarter and draining eight of their first 11 3-point attempts. Even when they cooled down in the second quarter, the Wolves went into the half with an 18-point lead shooting 50 percent from the field.

But they couldn’t match up with Phoenix as the Suns started getting hot. Phoenix had eight field goals in the first half, but went 21-of-38 the rest of the way.

Minnesota’s goal is trying to have their young players learn to hit shots when the pressure mounts—finding ways to break through the slump and ultimately stop momentum.

“That’s why they’re in there in the last four minutes,” Adelman said. “These are the guys that we picked and want to see them go through these situations.

“You want the young guys to realize how long an NBA game is.”

Hummel was a constant throughout. He shot 6-of-8 for the game and scored a team-high 18 points. Demetri McCamey bounced back from not playing in the Wolves’ first game and scored 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting—including 3-for-3 from distance—and Kee Kee Clark had 10 points. Shabazz Muhammad and Mychel Thompson each had eight, and Brandon Paul and Luke Sikma each had seven.

In all, the Wolves got production across the board as 11 of their 13 players scored in the contest.

For the Suns, the Morris twins led the way. Markieff Morris finished with 22 and Marcus Morris had 13, while Dionte Christmas had 16 off the bench, Kendall Marshall had 13 and P.J. Tucker had 10. The Suns had five 3-pointers through the first three quarters but drained four in the fourth to help their comeback.

Adelman said those guys are guaranteed contract guys who have played in the NBA and have the experience. Now it’s time for the Wolves’ young players to work toward that level of comfort late in games.

In the meantime, there will be disappointments like Monday night.

“Everybody is pretty upset, as am I,” Muhammad said. “So I mean, I’m happy we play tomorrow so we can get this out of our system.”

Leader of the Pack

Robbie Hummel put together a strong showing on both ends of the floor for the Wolves. He finished the game shooting 6-of-8 with 18 points on the offensive end, hitting both of his 3-point attempts, and he also collected seven boards. He’s been entrusted with a lot of responsibility on the defensive end with his assignments, mostly guarding the 3 and the 4 tonight but guarding essentially four different positions against the D-League on Saturday. He is also one of the team leaders when it comes to minutes played—he logged a team-high 25 minutes tonight.

Highlight of the Game

The Wolves had an incredibly efficient stretch of 3-point shooting in the first quarter, going 7-of-9 from distance in the first 10 minutes. It was punctuated by a splash of energy brought by Demetri McCamey, who entered the game midway through the quarter and hit his first two 3-pointers in the span of three minutes upon entering. It was during a stretch that led to the Wolves going on a 24-4 run and opened up an 18-point lead before the start of the second.

The Numbers Game

  • The Big Ten was represented well in the first half from distance. Brandon Paul, Robbie Hummel and Demetri McCamey were a combined 5-for-5 from distance midway through the second. Paul and McCamey hail from Illinois, Hummel from Purdue. They all overlapped time in college.

  • Midway through the second quarter, the Wolves had more 3-point makes (8) than the Suns had field goals (6). They had taken six fewer shots from distance than the Suns had taken overall.

  • The one area Minnesota struggled with all night was free-throw shooting. The Wolves ended the game 19-of-34 from the line, and on the flip side the Suns went 24-of-34 from the stripe. “If we made our free throws, the game is probably over at halftime,” Hummel said. “But at the same time they missed free throws, too…Unfortunately we can control ours.” In their first two Summer League games, the Wolves have allowed their opponents to shoot 59 free throws.

  • The Suns shot 21-of-38 in the second half after shooting 8-of-24 before halftime. In the final 3:28, the Suns shot 6-of-9, went 4-for-4 from the line hit three straight 3-pointers.

  • Quote of the Night

    “You can feel it. You can feel it coming. And it’s just one of those things where you have to keep grinding it out and try to break the momentum, and for a while we did. I thought they kind of cut it to 10, and we pushed it back to I think 14 or 15. And then they just kept coming and we weren’t able to finish it off in the end. So it’s something we can learn from.” — Wolves forward Robbie Hummel

    Next Up

    The Timberwolves wrap up their preliminary round at Summer League on Tuesday at 3 p.m. CT when they take on the Miami Heat at Cox Pavilion. The Wolves will then be seeded among the 22 teams at the event for the championship round. If the Wolves are in the top 10 seeds, they will play their first game of the championship tourney on Thursday. If they are seeded 11 through 22, they will play on Wednesday.

    For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Timberwolves and Mark Remme on Twitter.