Wolves battle with inconsistency 06 Jan 12

NBA Team Report – Minnesota Timberwolves – GETTING INSIDE

It’s games like this that will age Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman even quicker. After two well-played games, two victories over quality teams, the Wolves reverted to old form in a four-point loss to a Grizzlies team that was playing without Zach Randolph.

“It was disappointing the way we played tonight,” Adelman said. “I don’t think from the start of the game we came in with the right attitude.”

This is the challenge Adelman faces. There are new faces, to be sure. But there is an old culture that needs to be reversed. And a short training camp and the first few weeks of the season isn’t enough time to affect that change.

–After moving the ball unselfishly through two victories and for four of the first five games, the Wolves came out looking for their own shot. The result? A 20-5 deficit in the first quarter.

–After defending well, the Wolves allowed Memphis to score 48 points in the paint. And did we mention that Randolph wasn’t playing?

–After fighting back into the game and taking a five-point fourth-quarter lead, the Wolves failed to take care of the ball or make free throws down the stretch in a game that, despite their problems, the Wolves could have won.

Adelman was not happy. He said he sensed during the morning shoot that the team was lax in its approach. It sure looked that way in the game. The Wolves missed 11 of 24 free throws. The Grizzlies turned 17 Wolves turnovers into 23 points.

“Everybody is trying to do this themselves,” Adelman said. “This is a process. Every night we have to bring it. I don’t care what happened in the game before.”

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NBA Team Report – Minnesota Timberwolves – NOTES, QUOTES

–Luke Ridnour is the oldest player on the Timberwolves’ active roster. He has played on teams that won, teams that advance to the playoffs. So he, more than most on this roster, is in a position to talk about the Wolves’ potential. He may also be enjoying the team’s recent improved play more than many of the younger players.

Indeed, Ridnour seems to be invigorated. This comes on the heels of a 2010-11 season that was tough on and off the court. Off the court he had to deal with a health crisis concerned one of his newborn twins. On the court the relentless losing seemed to take a toll.

But this season could be different. “It’s fun to come in here,” Ridnour said. “Just the atmosphere, in the locker room, the fans. It’s something that we were definitely missing last year. To have that back? I’ve been lucky enough to be on teams that won. You can sense the atmosphere is totally different this year.”

The biggest difference, of course, is the improved roster, one being led by veteran coach Rick Adelman. Ridnour is off to a fast start, one that might be a bit under the radar considering the hype directed towards Ricky Rubio. Ridnour is eighth in the NBA with a .579 shooting percentage. He had scored in double-figures in three of the team’s five games entering Wednesday’s game with Memphis at Target Center. Monday against San Antonio he scored 19 points on 7-for-10 shooting and had nine assists.

Ridnour said he loves the way the team has played unselfishly on offense and how the players have helped each other on defense. “You see guys believing in each other.”

Ridnour is also serving as a mentor for Rubio. Adelman has been starting Ridnour and bringing Rubio off the bench. Rubio has been playing in the fourth quarter, but Adelman has often had the two playing together down the stretch, which plays to Ridnour’s strength as a shooter.

After Wednesday’s morning shoot-around, Rubio was asked if, while sitting on the bench in the first quarter, he can hear the crowd chanting for him to play. His response spoke to a team whose roster is close. “Yeah,” Rubio said. “But I don’t like that kind of stuff. Because, I don’t know how to say, there are five players playing on the court and we have to focus on them. And Luke played well and he did a great job for us.”

–It’s been an up and down start for second-year shooting guard Wes Johnson. He struggled with his shot, going 8-for-26 (5-for-15 on three-pointers) through the first five games.

In Monday’s victory over San Antonio, Johnson appeared to hit his stride. Encouraged not to hesitate when presented with a good shot, Johnson went 6-for-6 (including both three-point shots) for 14 points. “It was me getting into the flow, making shots again. And it felt good,” he said.

But Wednesday Johnson struggled again, going 0-for-5.

“We have to have guys who play all give you something,” Wolves coach Rick Adelman said.

–Yes, the excitement around the rookie has reached the point where Rubio has to be asked about his hair. He went with Kevin Love to get it snipped yesterday, and some of the players were giving Rubio a hard time about it today. Which, according to Kevin Love, is just as well. “I didn’t think he needed a haircut,” Love said. “The guys are giving him some grief today about it, which he needs. He’s a rookie. Derrick (Williams) needs some of it, Malcolm (Lee) as well. So he needed it today, to be brought back to Earth a little bit, like we all do sometimes.”

QUOTE TO NOTE: “I thought the ball movement was very poor. I thought we had guys looking for their shots first, rather than getting their teammates involved. We had, at halftime, nine assists. And Ricky (Rubio) had eight. It makes no sense to me.” — Wolves coach Rick Adelman.

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NBA Team Report – Minnesota Timberwolves – ROSTER REPORT

PLAYER NOTES:

–F Kevin Love had 27 points and 14 rebounds on Wednesday. By doing so he’s now had 20 or more points and 11 or more rebounds in the first six games of the season. The last NBA player to do that was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the Lakers in 1975.

–PG Ricky Rubio had a double-double, with 12 points and 10 assists. Rubio has now tallied at least six assists in four of six games this season.

–F Michael Beasley had a double-double, with 11 points and a season-high 10 rebounds.

MEDICAL WATCH:

–PG J.J. Barea missed his second straight game with a sore hamstring. Barea injured it against Milwaukee in the Wolves’ second game of the season and missed last Friday’s home game to Miami. He was able to return to play a part in the Wolves’ victory over Dallas — Barea’s former team — but was sore the next day.

–G Malcolm Lee is out for up to the next five-plus weeks following surgery last Friday to repair a torn meniscus ligament in his left knee.

–G Martell Webster is expected to be out until at least mid-January while he recovers from microdiscectomy surgery performed Sept. 28. It’s the second such surgery for him within 11 months.

–C Brad Miller is expected out until mid to late January after undergoing microfracture knee surgery in May.

ROTATION:

Starters:

–Power forward Kevin Love

–Small forward Michael Beasley

–Center Darko Milicic

–Shooting guard Wes Johnson

–Point guard Luke Ridnour

Bench:

–Point guard Ricky Rubio

–Forward Anthony Randolph

–Power forward Derrick Williams

–Power forward Anthony Tolliver

–Forward/center Anthony Randolph

–Shooting guard Wayne Ellington