Timberwolves on first skid of season after 117-106 loss to Pelicans

Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans goes to the basket while Jaden McDaniels #3 of the Minnesota Timberwolves defends in the first quarter at Target Center on January 03, 2024 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. ((Photo by David Berding/Getty Images))

The Minnesota Timberwolves came into Wednesday night’s game against the New Orleans Pelicans at Target Center having not lost consecutive games all season.

After each of their first seven losses this season, they followed it with a victory. That streak finally came to an end, but it took 33 games to get there and Minnesota was the last team in the NBA to have a losing streak. The Timberwolves struggled to make shots all night, and Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram put in a show in a 117-106 win over Minnesota. 

The Timberwolves drop to 24-9 on the season, but still have the No. 1 spot in the Western Conference by one game over the Oklahoma City Thunder. Timberwolves coach Chris Finch said after the game he could see a performance like Wednesday's coming, after a New Year's Day loss to the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden.

"We’ve got to get our desperation back, that’s first. We’ve got to play better, we haven’t played with a lot of pop and purpose since we went to Sacramento. We’ve kind of been in second gear since then. This performance had been coming for a while in the sense that we just haven’t been very sharp," Finch said. "We’ve got to get our physicality back, got to get our defense back, we’ve got to get our identity back."

Williamson had 27 points on 11-of-15 shooting, Ingram added 19 points on 7-of-11 shooting and C.J. McCollum had 22 as the trio combined to go 26-of-42 from the field. Anthony Edwards had 35 points, shooting 11-of-22 from the field, but had six turnovers. Karl-Anthony Towns had 22 points, five rebounds and two assists, but shot 8-of-19 from the field and 0-of-4 from the perimeter.

Edwards was direct about the team's struggles after the game.

"We’ve got to figure it out, we suck right now. It’s within the team and nothing I’m going to say here, but we talk. We’re looking at the same game, I think all y’all see it," Edwards said. "We’ll figure it out. They came in and kicked our ass tonight for sure."

The Timberwolves shot just 43.8% from the field, and 10-of-31 (32.3%) from the perimeter in the loss. The Pelicans shot 12-of-25 (48%) from three-point range. The Timberwolves also got out-rebounded 41-28 on the night.

The Timberwolves are on the back end of a stretch of 16 games against teams with an above .500 record. After Wednesday’s loss, they’re 7-5 with four such games remaining. It was also just Minnesota’s second home loss of the season, as they’re now 14-2 at Target Center.

Rudy Gobert said it might be a good time for the Timberwolves to be humbled on their home floor.

"When you get a bit of success, sometimes you forget what got you there. You get complimented from everybody, but it can soften you up a little bit. When you get smacked, when you lose, it does the opposite," Gobert said. "It’s on us, win or lose, to be able to learn that we have to bring that every night if we want to be the best we know we can be."