After the game, Timberwolves coach Chris Finch's voice was rough, raspy. A cold coming on? Perhaps. But also, maybe the result of arguing — too often vainly — calls over the previous 2 ½ hours.
In the locker room, Jaden McDaniels wasn't saying anything. Across the room, Rudy Gobert was picking his words carefully.
"We all, sometimes, we have that feeling that the things that get players and people in general furious is we feel like we're not being treated with integrity," he said.
Wednesday at Target Center the Wolves lost to Eastern Conference power Boston 104-102, the final result closer because of Mike Conley's last-second three-pointer.
It was a hard-fought, physical game in which both teams struggled to make shots. Trailing by 14 in the third quarter, the Wolves fought back to within two twice late in the fourth, the last time on two Gobert free throws with 1:09 left.
Only for the game to finish in frustration — four technical fouls were called on the Wolves, the last two in the final seconds against Anthony Edwards and Kyle Anderson not long after a botched jump ball may have decided the game.
"It was really rough out there,'' said Finch. "It felt a little unbalanced at times.''
For example, Finch couldn't understand why Boston coach Joe Mazzulla didn't get called for a technical when he raced from the Celtics bench to the other side of the court twice, the last time screaming for a timeout just before that jump ball. Turns out the refs indicated they didn't see Mazzulla.
Or the fact that, on a night when both teams were defensively stout and physical, Boston was able to take 30 free throws to the Wolves' 22; Boston's eight-point edge on made free throws was essentially the difference. After the game, Gobert was still wondering how he managed to have a flagrant foul called on him.
But back to that jump ball.
With 2:45 left, Gobert slammed home a pass from Edwards to pull the Wolves within 97-95. At the other end, Marcus Smart drove and scored. Moments later, two Jayson Tatum free throws made the Boston lead six. But McDaniels hit two free throws with 1:43 left.
After a Tatum turnover, Gobert hit two free throws of his own. Tatum missed a three. Edwards missed a three, then Boston missed two shots. In the scramble for the rebound, a jump ball was called between Gobert and Celtics forward Grant Williams.
To put it mildly, the Wolves felt it was poorly executed. Finch joked the ball never went higher than 6.5 feet in the air. The Wolves felt Williams moved before the ball was tossed, giving him the advantage.
"He stole the ball,'' Gobert said. "I would never lose a jump ball to Grant Williams, with all due respect. … Completely stole the ball. An unfortunate turn of events."
Fouled, Tatum hit two free throws with 1.7 seconds left. Ejections for Edwards and Anderson ensued. Tatum hit one of two free throws to seal the game.
It wasted some good Timberwolves defense, with some timely play by the bench during the comeback. Edwards scored 28 points with 10 rebounds and seven assists. Gobert, Anderson and Naz Reid had 15 each.
Jaylen Brown scored 35 for the Celtics (48-22), 15 in the fourth quarter.
The Wolves (35-35) held Boston to 40.5% shooting, to 12-for-40 on threes. But over the final minutes of the game, they couldn't get over the hump.
"I get hit in the face every night and I never get a flagrant,'' Gobert mused after the game. "It's crazy. Tonight was about things happening at once. I need to watch the game and see if I'm crazy or not.''