Timberwolves fall to Memphis for 6th loss in 7 games
The Grizzlies grabbed 15 offensive rebounds, which turned into 32 second-chance points
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Anthony Edwards was asked where the Timberwolves’ sense of urgency was after Minnesota’s uninspiring loss to Phoenix on Wednesday.
The guard said the time to act was now, then pointed to the next game on the schedule.
“I think we’ll turn it around in Memphis, for sure,” he said. “I think Memphis will bring it out of us.”
Why wouldn’t he think that? Memphis has always brought the best out of Minnesota. Every time the two teams met last season — including their thrilling postseason series — the Wolves got up for the fight. Surely, that would happen again.
But Edwards may need to realize what everyone else is quickly finding out — this is not the same Timberwolves team from a year ago. Last year’s rules need not apply to the 2022-23 edition. The Timberwolves were better in some areas Friday in Memphis, but worse in others in a 114-103 loss to the Grizzlies.
On Friday, the issue was an inability to box out on the offensive end. That was the exact struggle for Minnesota (5-8) in last year’s first-round playoff series, which was a big reason for the acquisition of Rudy Gobert. That was supposed to be the salve for that issue.
Instead, the Timberwolves continue to get blitzed on the boards, never more so than Friday. The Grizzlies (9-4) grabbed 15 offensive rebounds, which they turned into 32 second-chance points — and that was without Jaren Jackson Jr., who will miss the first two-plus months of the year as he works his way back from offseason surgery.
It’s another effort area where Minnesota again continues to come up short.
Memphis radio host Chris Vernon may have described it best with his in-game tweet Friday.
“The Grizzlies just played terribly in 3rd but still extended lead. Seeing Wolves in person is jarring,” he said. “That spirit they had when last saw ’em in playoffs is gone. They hardly speak to one another, and when do its usually met (with) an eye-roll.”
ESPN analyst Doris Burke wasn’t much kinder. When Minnesota fell down 15 midway through the fourth, Burke noted,
“This is where you feel a little bit of concession from Minnesota, where it pulls apart,” Burke said.
What an indictment of a professional basketball team, and her point is inarguable at this juncture. The rotations are consistently in flux, and the Wolves are indecisive and unenergetic on a nightly basis.
Edwards actually showed up Friday, tallying 28 points, six assists and six rebounds. And it wasn’t close to enough to matter. Memphis shot poorly from the field and yet coasted to a double-digit victory. Minnesota was slightly better than it had been, and it still wasn’t good enough.
Perhaps that’s as much a cause for concern as any.
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