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A Lack Of Energy Dooms Wolves In Loss To Jazz

Dane MizutaniWeb Editorial AssociateEmail / TwitterIt went from bad to worse for the Wolves on Saturday night at Target Center as the season-long losing streak hit 11 straight games. 

In a very winnable matchup against an injury-riddled Utah Jazz squad, the same problems that have plagued Minnesota all season flared up again in the midst of the awful 101-89 loss. It stings even more for the Wolves in this particular matchup because this was seen as a prime chance to snap the streak with Utah coming off a brutal back-to-back. 

“That’s probably about as bad of a loss as we’ve had in a long time," Flip Saunders said, "from the perspective that we’ve lost a bunch of games in a row and we’ve still had pretty good crowds the last two games considering where we’re at … and to come out the way we did is uncalled for. We talked to our team afterwards just about what it is to be professional. It’s everyone’s responsibility. … It was just really disappointing.”

Trey Burke paced his squad to the win finishing with a game-high 28 points on 10-for-16 shooting from the floor. Burke was dominant in a victory over Minnesota less than a week ago and it was much of the same this time around. He got to the bucket seemingly at will, and when the Wolves backed off to guard against the bounce, he nailed shots around the perimeter.

“He’d be first team all league if he played against us all the time,” Saunders said.

Postgame | Shabazz Muhammad

Jazz coach Quinn Snyder said before the matchup that the most important thing for his team was to come in with an increased sense of mental toughness. It had lost a tough contest to the Atlanta Hawks less than 24 hours earlier and was in need of a bounce back.

"We've kind of played both ways coming off a back-to-back,” Snyder said. “We've had really good games where we don't look like the team on a back-to-back, and then we've come out and laid an egg.

In this scenario Minnesota laid the proverbial egg, especially after halftime, as a manageable 47-41 lead for Utah ballooned into a 77-61 lead heading into the final frame. A convincing run from the Jazz made all the difference as the Wolves went more than three minutes without a bucket in that span.

Saunders said that the run was disappointing, though he noted that he was disappointed with the energy of this squad throughout the contest.

Shabazz Muhammad agreed on an underwhelming night for him on the stat sheet.

“We’re playing in the NBA,” Muhammad said. “We have to turn it around because the energy just isn’t there. It’s embarrassing. …

Postgame | Andrew Wiggins

Andrew Wiggins tried his best to get the Wolves back into the game with some hard-nosed play down the stretch. Wiggins finished with 20 points on the night, though his performance was again frustrating because it didn’t garner a victory. 

“It was just one of those games that we didn’t bring it from the start and because of it we weren’t where we wanted to be the whole game,” Wiggins said.  

Saunders added that he might fiddle with lineups down the stretch as a way to send a message to the team.

“I told our guys tonight to not think it can’t get worse,” Saunders said. “It definitely can.”

Ricky Rubio can’t get healthy soon enough.

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LEADER OF THE PACK

Andrew Wiggins again proved to be the straw that stirs the proverbial drink for the Wolves as he finished with 20 points to lead the team. He played a team-high 37 minutes and shot 8-for-15 in the loss. Wiggins has shown more and more flashes of brilliance as of late and has proven that he could become a dominant force in the league when he grows into his body. It will be a good day in Minnesota when he reaches that potential. In the meantime performance like this will have to suffice. 

NUMBERS GAME 

-- Minnesota surprisingly dominated down low in the first 12 minutes of play and scored 12 points in the painted area. That was a bit unexpected with the overall size advantage the Jazz hold over the Wolves.

-- A weakness of the team for most of the season, the Wolves were efficient at taking care of the rock in the first half against Utah. They finished with 4 turnovers before the break, while the Jazz had 9 turnovers.

-- Trey Burke was 2-for-19 against the Atlanta Hawks on Friday night, including 0-for-11 from long range. He was much better against the Wolves finishing with 28 points on an efficient 10-for-16 effort from the floor.

-- Minnesota was 0-for-7 from long range in the first half, whereas the Jazz shot an astounding 7-for-11 from beyond the arc.

-- Utah finished the game with 10 blocks on the night. Rudy Gobert led the way with a career-high 6 blocks. 

LOOKING AHEAD

Minnesota will continue its homestand with a game against the Denver Nuggets on Monday night as it looks to avenge its loss to the Nuggets from last week. Kenneth Faried thoroughly dominated the Wolves frontcourt in that game as he scored 26 points and hauled in 25 rebounds.