Hawks beat Timberwolves 113-103, team trying to stay positive
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MINNEAPOLIS – A reporter asked Timberwolves coach Kurt Rambis before Friday's 113-103 loss to the Atlanta Hawks about the "kind of" tough schedule to start the season.
"Kind of?" Rambis cut him off. "Way to go out on a limb there."
Playing back-to-back road games against the Orlando Magic and Miami Heat is a tough to task for any team to face. It becomes even tougher when a team is as young and as banged up as the Wolves are.
But Rambis knows there is no excuse for a franchise record 42-point loss and three game road trip where were all three games were lost by a combined 94 points.
"I don't know how you could not be embarrassed (by the loses)," Rambis said. "Whe you get beat by the number of points that we got beat by; it doesn't sit well with anybody."
The important thing for Rambis will be to keep the players spirits high and not let them get down on themselves. With the always dreaded West-coast road trip next week, it doesn't get any easier from here.
"We have to encourage them that a lot of the time they are doing the right things and the right things work well for them," Rambis said. "That's what we have to hold on to, we just have to continue to grow from there."
If the loses are affecting the players, they aren't showing it in practice. What was supposed to be a short practice Friday turned into a competitive session that Rambis eventually had to cut off.
"They did a really good job," Rambis said. "They could have come up and been down and felt sorry for themselves but they went after it. They were very aggressive, high energy contact practice."
Despite the lopsided loses, this team cannot be fully judge until they have their full compliment of players.
Jonny Flynn remains sidelined from hip surgery in the off-season. Martell Webster's back has him out indefinitely and Michael Beasley missed a game and a half after landing hard on his hip against Miami.
"We will never know this season who we are as a team until we are all healthy and we get a rotation after that and see where we stand as a ballclub," Rambis said.
Flynn, who is expected to overtake Luke Ridnour when he returns as the starting point guard, is practicing with the team but there is still no target return date.
"He gets closer every day," Rambis said. "He went through practice (Thursday), was very animated, went through everything we went through but was still very stiff and sore this morning. Lets you know that it's a while to go."
Rambis did point out that injuries do create opportunities for guys to step up and rookie Wesley Johnson has done that.
No longer hampered by a nagging hamstring injury, Johnson has found his way into the starting lineup the previous two games and continues to impress just six games into his NBA career.
Johnson had his best game as a pro against Atlanta with a career high 18 points, reaching double-figures for the fourth time in his six game career.
In a losing effort against Atlanta, the Wolves showed a sense of competitiveness and fight down the stretch despite being down by as many as 17 points. The competitiveness was lacking on the road trip and something the team will need to continue to show as they take their inevitable lumps.
"They have to aspire to get up to the level of players and teams that we have been facing," Rambis said. "That is our goal. That's where we want to be. They have to take that challenge to learn about the players and the league and learn about themselves so they can get better."
From here, the Wolves travel to Houston Sunday to take on a winless Rockets team before heading to California to take on the Kings and world champion LA Lakers.