Timberwolves gripe about officiating after 107-100 loss to Suns

Referee CJ Washington #12 talks with Head Coach Chris Finch of the Minnesota Timberwolves during the second half at FTX Arena on December 26, 2022 in Miami, Florida. ((Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images))

The Minnesota Timberwolves had a four-game win streak snapped in a 107-100 loss to the Phoenix Suns Wednesday night, as they continue to fight for Western Conference playoff positioning.

To put it mildly, coach Chris Finch and center Rudy Gobert were not happy with the officiating after the loss. The Suns went to the free-throw line 27 times, including Devin Booker getting 15 of those. The Timberwolves team in total went 8-of-12 from the free-throw line.

Multiple times, a Timberwolves player went to the rim and drew contact without a whistle. Any contact at all on Booker sent him to the line.

"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 after the loss. "Because this is a team that doesn't historically draw fouls at the rate they did. The free throw disparity got us. I thought we were driving and playing with just as much force as they were."


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The Sacramento Kings were ready to celebrate their first playoff berth in 16 years in front of an electric crowd, but the Minnesota Timberwolves had other ideas.

Finch is referencing Suns’ coach Monty Williams, who was recently fined by the NBA for criticizing officiating.

Gobert, who was whistled for five fouls and got multiple calls for illegal screens, didn’t hold back on his thoughts about the officiating.

"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."

He wasn’t done.

"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. 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," Gobert said.

The Timberwolves had a 51-48 lead at the half and led by double digits in the third quarter before the Suns went on a run. They committed 21 turnovers, and didn’t make shots at key times in the loss. The Timberwolves had a chance to get within a half game of the Suns for fourth in the Western Conference with a win. Instead, they remain at seventh with five regular season games to play.

The Timberwolves host the L.A. Lakers, a half game behind Minnesota in the No. 8 spot, Friday night at Target Center. The top six teams at the end of the regular season avoid a play-in series for the playoffs.