Morning Shootaround

Minnesota Timberwolves trying to right ship after back-to-back losses staff reports

Four days ago, the Minnesota Timberwolves were riding high after Andrew Wiggins’ game-winning 3-pointer off the glass gave them a big win in Oklahoma City. Fast-forward to this morning and the Wolves are trying to figure out how they haven’t capitalized on the momentum of that victory.

* Recap: Pistons 122, Timberwolves 101

A two-game swoon is afoot for Minnesota, which, to be fair, has played both games without All-Star swingman Jimmy Butler. To the Wolves’ veteran players, this mini-skid is a lesson to be learned for the young team, writes Jerry Zgoda of The Star Tribune:

In the words of both coach Tom Thibodeau and young star Karl-Anthony Towns: The unselfish, ball-moving Pistons also handed the Wolves their, uh, hats.

Just what has happened on consecutive nights without three-time All-Star Jimmy Butler, out ill because of an upper respiratory ailment that in a way maybe has infected a whole team?

“We’ve lost our way a little bit and until we change our mentality in some aspects, there will be similar results,” Wolves 18-year vet Jamal Crawford said. “Basketball is a humbling game, and you have to respect it or else it will humble you.”

Fellow veteran Taj Gibson used the same word — humble — to describe a team that was high on its last-second victory Sunday in Oklahoma City and now is reeling.

“That game at OKC, you get a couple of pats on your back and then you come home thinking everything will be easygoing,” Gibson said after Wednesday’s game. “We got humbled by the Pacers last night. Tonight, we come out with a little bit of energy and set the tone the right way and then we just laid an egg in the second quarter and didn’t play well the rest of the night.”

“That’s this league,” Thibodeau said. “Things can change very quickly, from going good to going very poorly. It can also change back again very quickly.”

“Of course, we miss Jimmy,” said Gibson, who played six seasons with Butler in Chicago. “Of course, we’re going to need Jimmy to win games. But we have more than enough to get the job done. I’ve been in this league a long time. I’ve won games with less than the talent we have in here. It’s all about believing and coming together. We’re still a young group. We’re still trying to work the kinks out.

“But we’ll get there. I promise we’ll get there.”

* * *