MINNEAPOLIS On a normal day, this was a game they needed to win.
There was a Western Conference opponent on the tail end of a back-to-back, running on fumes after an early season schedule with the destructive force of a hurricane. There were the Timberwolves, desperately clinging to the edge of .500, clinging and hoping to climb. There was a healthy team, or healthy in Minnesota terms, which are admittedly skewed. Taken all together, that meant this one counted. It counted big.
And Wednesday was hardly a normal day. It dawned with memories of Kevin Love's comments, ripping the team, its owner and president of basketball operations. No, they weren't a bad dream, and Wednesday was the hangover. But before that particular brand of nausea, exhaustion and self-loathing could kick in, another distraction. Ricky Rubio would not play, the team announced, not tonight, not yet. All that before 11 a.m., and then it was time for the Timberwolves to face what they'd wrought.