Timberwolves return from All-Star break with 112-107 loss to Bucks

Call it the Cabo effect.

The Timberwolves came back from the All-Star break and looked like they left their offense on the various beaches they frequented over the last week at times during a 112-107 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks.

This was especially true during an abysmal third quarter Friday night at Target Center in which the Bucks outscored the Wolves 36-13. The Wolves had just as many turnovers as made baskets (six) and shot just 26% on the night. After the game, Anthony Edwards wasn't afraid to lay the blame at the feet of the All-Star break.

"You know how it goes after the break," Edwards said. "I know I was out of shape tonight, for sure."

By that, he meant more his shot than physical conditioning. He scored 28 points on just 10-for-27 shooting, and his shot didn't come around until it was too late. The Wolves got as close as three in the final minute before Damian Lillard (21 points on 8-for-23) delivered a dagger jumper from the right wing to lift Milwaukee to the victory.

The Wolves had a much better fourth quarter offensively as Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns (22 points) got going, but the lousy third quarter and Giannis Antetokounmpo were too much to overcome. The Bucks star forward and two-time NBA MVP finished with 33 points and was 14-for-21 from the free-throw line. Antetokounmpo shot more free throws from the line than every other player on the floor combined on both teams (17). But the Wolves could have overcome this if not for their third-quarter troubles, which were atypical for the team that leads the league in third quarter net rating.

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"Our offense collapsed in the third quarter," coach Chris Finch said. "Thirteen points. We missed some good shots, but we didn't have a lot of movement. A lot of ball movement. Body movement was super static. That led to turnovers."

The Wolves the battle of second-chance points 23-14, which caused Finch to deadpan: "Yeah, we missed a lot of shots, so at least we got 'em back. We just gotta be better. We were hustling but we weren't very sharp."

As usual, their bad offense bled over to the other end of the floor, as the Wolves allowed Milwaukee to get out in transition and shooters like former Wolves guard Malik Beasley to get hot. Beasley had all 14 of his points in the third.

The Bucks outscored the Wolves 23-4 over a stretch of 4 minutes, 41 seconds. That included Rudy Gobert (12 points, 19 rebounds) spraining an ankle while going up for a rebound, but Gobert stayed in the game and said afterward he was fine.

"That stretch definitely cost us the game," Gobert said. "Just sloppy offense. One pass, one shot. Then not matching them defensively, not having any type of urgency to get back. Those guys are pretty good. So if you don't have that same level of urgency for 48 minutes, they're going to take advantage of it."

Coming into the break, the Wolves were riding a four-game win streak, while the Bucks were 3-7 in their 10 games under new coach Doc Rivers. But a break can help a struggling team refocus, especially a team as talented as the Bucks, and it can cause a good team to get a little too high on itself and lose the urgency it once had. That seemed to happen from the jump as Milwaukee raced out to a 7-0 lead on three Wolves turnovers in the first four possessions.

BOXSCORE: Milwaukee 112, Wolves 107

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Then the shots didn't fall when the Wolves did play well.

"You know, man, it happens," Edwards said. "Like I said, we had a break. Probably came out in the second half a little too comfortable, I feel like. I missed a whole bunch of chippies at the rim. We all missed a bunch of shots tonight. Blame that, I feel like."

The night wasn't a typical night to being with — a late start time of 9 p.m., ESPN camera following the Wolves around the last two days for a day of all-access into the team, all while players got back into town from their breaks Wednesday and Thursday. It wasn't exactly the same type of rhythm coming into the game that the Wolves are accustomed to, and they played like it.

"I thought we were a little slow to get to the next play," Gobert said, "We were getting a little too affected by our mistakes, by our missed shots, by every little thing that didn't go our way tonight. We did some good things, but that one stretch was tough for us."