MINNEAPOLIS En route to their 90-77 loss against the Clippers on Thursday, the Timberwolves were outscored 21-20 in the third quarter and entered the game's final frame down by five points.
That hardly sounds ideal, but for the Timberwolves, it was a step in the right direction. Ever since returning from its four-game, four-loss southern road trip, the team has had an acute awareness of its issues with pacing and focus among other things after being outscored by an average of 8.8 points in the third quarter of those games.
On the trip, the Timberwolves' scoring margin by quarter looked like this: plus-1.3 in the first quarter, minus-4.8 in the second, minus-8.8 in the third and minus-4.5 in the fourth. It wasn't so much a gradual running out of steam while shorthanded as an utter collapse in the middle of too many games, especially coming out of halftime.
That's true for the season, too. On the year, the Timberwolves are markedly worse in the third quarter than in...