J.J. Barea trying to shake off frustrating late-season slump
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MINNEAPOLIS -- J.J. Barea is in a slump.
And the timing, with the Minnesota Timberwolves struggling to keep their already slim playoff hopes alive, has only added to the backup guard's frustrations.
In his last six games, Barea has shot just 28.3 percent from the floor (15-of-53). Since Feb. 23, he has averaged seven points per game, two under his previous season average.
The 29-year-old veteran guard was open when talking about his recent woes after practice on Monday, admitting his play in the last two weeks has been hard to take.
"It's a little frustrating out there when I can't help my team the way I want to do my job the way I want to do it," Barea said. "Sometimes, I get mad, because I don't get my job done. Of course I'm gonna get mad."
While Barea has battled to find his shot again, the Wolves' reserve unit as a whole has seen its production dip again, as it has on and off all year. The bench has shot under 40 percent in four of Minnesota's last five games. The reserves delivered only six three-pointers off 27 attempts (22 percent) in that five-game stretch (Barea was responsible for three of those made shots).
Against Toronto on Sunday, the second unit came up with just 16 points, as the Wolves eventually fell short in a game that delivered another sizable blow to their late push for the playoffs.
Coach Rick Adelman noted Barea's struggles have put an obvious strain on the Wolves' bench play, but also said the group's overall inconsistencies have made it worse.
"I think the bench has been up and down, and that really affects (Barea)," Adelman said. "I thought when he came in with the starters yesterday he played a lot better. So a lot of that has to do with it, but we just need to get consistency from everyone on the bench. He's always bounced back before, so I think he's going to do that."
The Wolves badly need him to. It is likely the Wolves have already played themselves out of the playoff race, but in order to keep alive any shot they may still have, their bench production must reach a stable level.
In the meantime, Barea has increasingly received a sour reception from portions of the Wolves' fan base. He hears the boos and jeers, but is quick dismiss any negative effects they may bring.
"I hear my share, but that's part of the job," Barea said. "They pay to come see us, so they can say whatever they want. As long as they don't disrespect me or my family, they can say whatever they want. They want to boo or whatever, that's part of the game."