Amid slump, Wolves in need of limiting recent high-risk tendencies
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MINNEAPOLIS -- To borrow a cliched comparison, the Minnesota Timberwolves have gone as cold as the temperatures that have gripped the Twin Cities as of late.
A 21-point shellacking by Miami Saturday, albeit with Kevin Love absent, sent the Wolves (9-11) stumbling to their seventh loss in nine games. Upcoming match-ups with Detroit and Philadelphia offer a prime chance to get back to the .500 threshold, but they must first address some obvious shortcomings.
Luckily for the recently road-weary Wolves, they have had the time do so. After a film session and individual workouts Sunday, Minnesota was back at practice Monday shortly before taking off for Detroit.
Coach Rick Adelman stressed that too many times in the last two weeks he has seen his team take high in-game risks with little reward to show for it. With the Wolves battling shooting woes, they have shown a tendency to force passes and shots. In turn, that has made periodic defensive breakdowns even more glaring.
"We have too many guys who gamble too much," Adelman said. "You've got to be solid. You can't just gamble. Our problem is that we give up easy baskets and then it gets tough ... We've got to get back and we can't give up layups. On the other end, we have to take better shots. We're not shooting well, so we have to find a way to be more efficient."
Miami, taking advantage of Love being out, bluntly exposed the reoccurring problems the Wolves have had. The Heat put up 24 points in transition and added more than half their points in the paint (56 of 103).
Minnesota made matters worse by shooting a season-low 29.3 percent from the floor. It was the low point in an already lackluster stretch. Since the Wolves' 2-7 slump began on Nov. 19 against Washington, they have shot a league-worst 40 percent and have a 29.4 percent mark from three-point range.
On top of better shot selection, remedying the flaws they've had with ball movement could be the Wolves' first step towards finding a more cohesive and consistent form on both ends.
"We're trying to make what I call home run passes," Adelman said. "Sometimes the best pass is the one that leads to an assist. We've tried way too much of that. Defensively, same thing. We're gambling too much. We just have to get back and be solid and not force the issue."
• Love returned to practice Monday after leaving the team for two days following the death of his grandmother. He declined to speak to reporters but is expected to play Tuesday at Detroit.
As was made obvious thanks to the Heat, the Wolves need Love if they hope to start trending upward again.
"He helps a lot. You saw the Miami game. There's a big difference," Adelman said. "There's a big load off for us. You just can't make that up."