Dane Mizutani: Timberwolves can blame their immaturity for Game 4 loss to Nuggets

13 May 2024

As they navigated a pivotal stretch on Sunday night at Target Center, the Timberwolves actually showed the heart of a champion. Though they trailed the Denver Nuggets by as many as 16 points in the early stages of Game 4, they never gave up.

They chipped away and chipped away, and eventually, cut the deficit to single digits on a rhythm three-pointer by Anthony Edwards.

Then? Disaster.

Stunningly, in the span of roughly 20 seconds before halftime, the Timberwolves let all their hard work fall by the wayside.

It started when Nikola Jokic caught them sleeping, finding Kentavious Caldwell-Pope for an open three-pointer, which stretched the lead back to double digits. Instead of holding for what would’ve been the final possession, Edwards got too casual with the ball, turning it over and leading to a fastbreak dunk by Michael Porter Jr. To make matters even worse, Jamal Murray intercepted an errant pass in the waning seconds and nailed a 55-foot backbreaker at the buzzer.

The stretch was immaturity personified from the Timberwolves and perhaps the biggest reason they suffered a 115-107 loss to the Nuggets. You couldn’t help but watch the second half without thinking about all those points the Timberwolves spotted the Nuggets at the end of the first half.

Never mind that Edwards did everything he could, putting up 44 points on 16 of 25 shooting from the floor. Not even the Ant Man, who has looked the part of a legitimate superhero on the court at times in the playoffs, could save the Timberwolves from themselves.

The series is now tied 2-2 heading to Denver.

Truthfully, the whole game would’ve played out differently if the Timberwolves could have closed out the first half without imploding. They likely would’ve been well in striking distance throughout the second half given the way Edwards was dominating anybody in front of him. That wasn’t the case, however, because of an inexcusable lapse of judgement that led to an uphill climb the rest of the game.

Maybe the worst part of that collapse before halftime was the fact the Timberwolves made the fan base believe that they had outgrown that lesser version of themselves.

That was no longer the case as the Timberwolves looked the part of a legitimate contender as recent as last week, starting the playoffs a perfect 6-0, sweeping the Phoenix Suns in convincing fashion, and putting the defending champion Nuggets on notice with a blowout win.

That’s why the 20 seconds before halftime was so painful to stomach. It seemed as if Timberwolves had advanced to the next level in their pursuit of an NBA champion.

Now there’s at least a thought that it might have all been a mirage and the Timberwolves might be the same team they have always been. You know? The immature bunch that TNT analyst Charles Barkley loved to clown on national television for being the opposite of smart.

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