It was a difficult way for a career night to end.
Saturday at Oklahoma City, Timberwolves center Naz Reid, again starting with Karl-Anthony Towns out, scored a career-high 29 points. He made 12 of 21 shots, had six rebounds, two steals.
With the Wolves down 21 points coming out of halftime, Reid singlehandedly thrust the Wolves back into the game.
He hit a three-pointer 11 seconds into the second half. Moments later he scored again. Over the first 2½ minutes of the third quarter Reid personally outscored the Thunder 11-3, and the Wolves were off.
"I think he scored like three times in a row," Wolves rookie Jaden McDaniels said. Actually, it was five times in a row. "And then defensively he was rebounding, helping. That's exciting for us. We're all on the bench, jumping around and happy. So we're just happy for Naz, in the [way] he performed."
There is no question that Reid, who scored 21 of his 29 points in the second half, got the Wolves going. But, afterward, Reid was hardly celebrating after his last-second shot didn't fall with the Wolves down two points.
Coming out of a timeout with only 5.2 seconds left, the Wolves' plan was to get the ball to the 6-9 Reid, who was being guarded by the smaller Shai Gilgeious-Alexander. Reid had the option of going for the score or kicking the ball out for a three-pointer. He chose the shot, but it didn't fall.
Afterward, Reid said the shot felt good.
"It was depressing when I missed," he said. "But my teammates all believed in me. They all came over afterwards and praised me for how hard I worked throughout the game. I just wanted to win. Unfortunately we didn't win."
But Saturday's performance showed Reid's game continues to grow. He is averaging 16.5 points, shooting nearly 55% overall and 40% on three-pointers in four February games.
Wolves coach Ryan Saunders said he liked Reid's decision at the end of the game.
"I liked the layup," he said. "And Naz, he's going to be good for a long time. I know he's hurting right now, missing that one. But he had an unbelievable half."
Given Oklahoma City's ability to penetrate and score Saturday — especially during an 83-point first half — there were many times when the Wolves could have used Josh Okogie, one of the team's best perimeter defenders.
But, Saturday, Okogie played just nine minutes.
Okogie is in a nearly monthlong slump where baskets have been almost impossible to come by. Saturday Saunders decided to take Okogie out of the starting lineup, deciding to have him come off the bench in the hopes it would kick-start his game.
It wasn't the only reason, of course. Saunders wanted to see Reid and Jarred Vanderbilt on the court together, as they will often be paired when the team returns to full health. But getting Okogie going was a big part of the decision, too.
"I'm really hoping it can help Josh find a good rhythm," Saunders said before Saturday's game. "Maybe see the game a little bit. You know Josh has so many talents, and his ability to defend affect games. I'm really hoping early on he can see the game going, offensively and defensively, and find his spots and get back on track."
This is still a work in progress. Okogie missed both shots he took, including a three-pointer. He also missed two free throws, and the Wolves missed 10 of 22 from the line.
Okogie has played only nine minutes in each of the past two games. In four games in February his minutes are down to 16.3 and he's shooting just 2-for-15 (13.3%).
After returning from injury Jan. 10, Okogie averaged just 4.8 points and shot 33.3% in 10 January games, shooting 15% on three-pointers.
Those struggles have hurt the team on both ends of the court. As his minutes have dwindled, the Wolves haven't been able to take advantage of his prowess as a point-of-attack defender.