PHOENIX – Rudy Gobert didn't hold back, and he didn't seem to care how big of a check he will be writing soon.
After the Timberwolves' 107-100 loss to the Suns, Gobert let out a lot of pent-up frustration he, the team and its fanbase have had with officiating this season. Wednesday was a night the Suns had 27 free-throw attempts to Minnesota's 12. Suns guard Devin Booker, who had 29 points, went to the line 15 times.
All season long, the Wolves have had a simmering irritation with how the officials have called their games. On Wednesday, Gobert's exasperation came out. Officials called 11 fouls in the first half and 29 in the second. When he was asked if the inconsistency of the foul calls made it hard to defend, Gobert — who had seven points and 15 rebounds — laid into the officiating all season as it pertained to the Timberwolves.
"It's not fair. It's really not fair," Gobert said. "Every night. I've been in this league for 10 years and I try to always give the benefit of the doubt, but it's hard for me to think they're not trying to help [the Suns] win tonight. It's hard for me to think they didn't try to help the Warriors win the other night or Sacramento Kings the other night. It's just so obvious. As a basketball player that's been in this league for so long, it's disrespectful."
Gobert wasn't done. He said he has never been called for so many illegal screens in his career (he was called for two in the final minutes of Wednesday's game) and continued to say what many fans have often felt about officiating — that it tends to favor bigger-market teams the league might like to see in the playoffs.
"We understand that we're not the biggest of the markets and we're a team that — I think you want to see KD [Kevin Durant] in the playoffs, Steph [Stephen Curry] in the playoffs, you want to see LeBron [James] in the playoffs. [The] Timberwolves are not there yet. We got to keep putting our head down, keep playing through that and it's frustrating for sure, especially for me."
Coach Chris Finch wasn't as direct or conspiratorial in his critiques of Wednesday's officiating, but he was quick to point out the free-throw disparity and the effect it had on the outcome.
Finch referenced Suns coach Monty Williams recently drawing a fine for criticizing officials and how that seemed to make an impact in Wednesday's game.
"It works because tonight they went to the line 27 times and we went to the line 12 times. Sitting up here and talking about it or whatever, must have worked for them," Finch said. "Because this is a team that doesn't historically draw fouls at the rate they did."
The Wolves were still in position to come back and spoil Duran't return from a sprained ankle after they were down 101-97 with 2 minutes, 4 seconds to play, but Gobert was whistled for two illegal screens, and the Wolves scored only three points the rest of the way. The Wolves limited Durant to just 16 points on 5-for-18, but their offense had a clunky night as Karl-Anthony Towns returned to the starting lineup after an off night Monday. They shot 44% and committed 21 turnovers.
"We got to do a better job spacing for each other, especially against a good defensive team like them," Gobert said.
Anthony Edwards led the team with 31 points while Towns had 25. The Wolves still had a successful 2-1 West Coast trip, and have a showdown coming up at home Friday with the Lakers, who are one-half game behind them for the No. 7 seed.
They might not be fully healthy headed into that game.
Naz Reid had 15 points but appeared to injure his left wrist in the second half after a hard fall following a dunk attempt. Reid, who said he would be all right, finished the game but was in a lot of pain afterward in the locker room.
The Wolves also came into the game with a number of players battling an "intestinal flu," according to Finch and varying degrees of symptoms that go along with that. Some, such as Taurean Prince and Austin Rivers, were out because of it. Others, such as Kyle Anderson, Mike Conley and Edwards, played through it.
"It was a tough one, man," said Conley, who had seven points on 3-for-13 shooting from the field. "… It's hard to talk and breathe at the same time. But we're a competitive group and we don't use that as an excuse."
But they certainly had some thoughts about the officiating.