For as well as the Timberwolves have played recently, they have polluted their schedule with plenty of woulda, coulda, shoulda games.
You can add another one to that pile after Monday's 118-111 overtime loss to the Kings at Target Center. The Wolves did take the game to OT, but they left feeling like it should have never reached that point. When it did, it left them regretting how they played there, too. It left the team a little frustrated after the game.
"I'm gonna say the wrong thing tonight," guard Anthony Edwards said as he left the locker room, declining to take questions.
Take your pick of problems: 18 turnovers, a lifeless 17-point first quarter or a 13-for-25 performance at the free-throw line. For coach Chris Finch, the Wolves lost the game at a certain moment — when they were ahead 98-95 with 1 minute, 59 seconds remaining. Kings guard De'Aaron Fox (32 points) hit the first of two free throws, but the Kings got the rebound off his missed second shot. The ball swung back to Fox, who buried a three for a 99-98 lead.
"The game never should have made it into overtime," Finch said. "We lose that game on free-throw rebounds."
The Wolves did force overtime after Jaden McDaniels hit a game-tying three with 13.5 seconds left in regulation and Fox missed a last-second jumper. In overtime, it appeared the Wolves had the Kings ready for checkmate. Center Domantas Sabonis (17 points, 13 rebounds) had fouled out late in regulation, and the Kings went with a small-ball lineup that featured 6-9 Trey Lyles essentially playing center.
But that lineup torched the Wolves for nine points over the first four possessions of overtime as the Wolves failed to adjust to Sacramento's lineup. Lyles had eight of his 11 points in overtime, including a pair of corner threes. Finch took responsibility for not having the right lineup out there for the Wolves.
"Overtime was simply about guarding the spread offense. We couldn't do it," Finch said. "I got to get different lineups out there that can do it. That's on me for sure.
Afterward in the locker room within earshot of the media, Edwards, who finished with a game-high 33 points, Rudy Gobert and D'Angelo Russell ping-ponged back and forth about how the Wolves could have responded differently defensively in those moments.
"It's just figuring out the personnel to respond to it," Russell said.
Gobert (19 points, 14 rebounds) took ownership for a bad close-out and for overhelping on another basket. Those mistakes led to six points.
"I'm glad we went through that tonight so we can watch film and see all the things that we can do," Gobert said. "But I think it's just about us being aware of [the lineup], and then just lock in and just guard."
The Wolves also didn't help themselves on offense in the extra session with a pair of turnovers and 3-for-9 shooting. Edwards finished with six turnovers and the night started choppy for the Wolves, who were 8-for-24 in the first quarter.
"I just didn't like our shot selection to start the game," Finch said. "We were fighting the game. Like trying to take on the teeth of the defense instead of making the easy play."
Russell, who has been an offensive tear of late, regressed with a 4-for-16 night. When the Wolves lose, they tend to lose in familiar ways to how they lost earlier in the season. A key rebound that got away, failure to contain the ball and inconsistent ball movement — three areas the Wolves had cleaned up of late that went missing at the most inopportune times Monday.
"It was a hard fought game, a lot of mistakes on both sides," Russell said. "We fought. … Started figuring it out, started making shots, started working for it. Then at the end it was a battle of the least mistakes, and we kind of made more."