Timberwolves’ season-long rollercoaster continues

Friday’s loss to Brooklyn was a perfect encapsulation of Minnesota’s 2022-23 campaign.

The Wolves controlled play for the first half, then the defense failed them miserably in the third frame, and the offense followed suit. Minnesota then turned up its defensive intensity over the final five-plus minutes of regulation to give itself a chance. And just when it looked as though it would fall short, Naz Reid hit a triple at the buzzer to send the game to overtime.

You might assume Minnesota would ride that wave of momentum to victory, but that was not the case, as Brooklyn simply out-executed the Wolves in the extra session.

Up and down, all around — the Timberwolves’ rollercoaster ride continues.

Such is life in the NBA. Teams gain and lose leads throughout 48 minutes, just as they go through stretches of good and poor play over the course of an 82-game season.

Yet few teams seem to experience the high highs and low lows the Wolves have endured throughout their season.

“It’s been a hard season in that it’s been a very up-and-down, emotional season. We’ve had great wins, bad losses. We’ve always responded, so I have great faith in our guys to be able to do that,” Timberwolves coach Chris Finch said last week. “The losses this year have hurt way more than in general, just because it feels like a lot of blown opportunities. But, still have a lot of guys that are learning, learning how to close games. Learning how to play in high-leverage situations every single night. We get exposed when we don’t do that.”

Minnesota needs a victory Monday in Atlanta to avoid its seventh three-plus game losing streak of the campaign. On the flip side, the Wolves have won three-plus consecutive games on five separate occasions.

The Wolves sandwiched a five-game winning streak with a pair of three-game losing skids in November. From mid-December to early January, Minnesota went through a stretch where it won three straight, lost six straight, then won four straight.

More recently, Minnesota sandwiched the All-Star break with disappointing defeats, followed up by letting one get away against the Warriors. The Wolves seemed to have things figured out when they carded road victories over the Clippers, Lakers and Kings in succession, only to come home and lose a pair of games to the 76ers and Nets.

Minnesota has beaten a few great teams and lost to a number of terrible ones. The Wolves have taken about as convulsive of a route to a .500 mark this late in the season as you could chart.

If the Wolves (34-34) want to do anything of consequence this season, they can’t afford to endure the same level of turbulence over the final 14 games of the regular season.

“Just gotta stay positive, continue to keep working, continue to keep getting better, and hopefully we don’t have some of those efforts like we’ve had against the lesser teams,” Wolves forward Kyle Anderson said. “But you know, just keep working, stay at it, stay positive and hope everyone brings it.”

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