By Ray Glier
You won’t find this surprising.
Karl Anthony Towns went for 37 points for the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday night against the Hawks in State Farm Arena. He had it going on. Threes. Runners. Drives. Putbacks.
But Derrick Rose decided he wanted to star. He missed a chancy floater shot at the buzzer that missed at 0:00 of regulation. Towns was available for a pass and game winner. Andrew Wiggins wanted to shine in OT. He missed three shots. Tyus Jones missed a shot. Josh Okojie missed a three. Dario Saric missed a three.
Where was Towns? Invisible. The hottest hand took just three shots in OT and made two, including a 3. The Hawks are nothing special on interior defense; Towns should have been more a factor. Minnesota lost 131-123.
This is a difficult game to play. The NBA is full of star players, I mean really good players, and they all want the ball at the end. Meanwhile, nobody wants to be the star on the defensive end. It showed as guard Trae Young got down the lane whenever he wanted for Atlanta and finished with 36 points.
The T-Wolves have a marvelously talented team, but you can see what happens in pro basketball when there is a lack of chemistry and togetherness. I mean, Rose walked away from a late-game huddle before head coach Ryan Saunders was done talking to the starters. Just walked away.
So when you hear the words “chemistry” and “same page” and “closeness” don’t roll your eyes. Don’t just look at talent and assume shot-making is going to make it work. I saw one of the most talented Kentucky teams ever lose in the Final Four because Towns was ignored in the late game. I saw a Minnesota team just cave on defense against the 21-win Hawks who are rebuilding.
Chemistry counts. And don’t underestimate togetherness. We get reminded of it all the time in Sports.