Kevin Love calls Wolves' effort 'saddening' in sixth straight defeat
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Rick Adelman said before Monday's 114-90 loss to the Phoenix Suns that his Minnesota Timberwolves weren't going to lay down and make it easy for opponents now that they are all but out of the playoff hunt.
His team's performance surely didn't back up that sentiment in a lifeless effort that was reminiscent of games from Aprils past -- only this year, the Wolves don't even have a first-round draft pick for which to tank.
Afterwards, Adelman was at a loss for the words about the Wolves' sixth consecutive loss and the way their once-promising season continues to spiral into a nightmare.
"I don't know what to say," he said. "It is disappointing."
Adelman criticized a lack of energy, especially on the defensive end, and told his team it is up to them how they are going to end their season.
Kevin Love echoed his coach's message, calling the lack of effort from the team "saddening."
"It has to come from everybody," Love said. "I feel like a few of us guys were out there fighting and it needs to be all five guys out there on the floor and most of the time it is three or four. When we aren't working together as a unit, we aren't as solid as we once were so, we have taken a drop-off."
The Wolves have now lost 22 consecutive games in the month of April, and with the way they have been playing as of late, one could easily make an argument they could run the table this season in the loss column.
The Suns are an overachieving team that has a shot at the playoffs, but this wasn't exactly the 1997 Chicago Bulls that walked into Target Center and pushed them around.
It sure looked like it at times, especially during a 21-4 run in the third quarter in which the Wolves threw in the towel.
"We can't go out like this," Love said.
The defensive problems that have plagued the Wolves much of the last month were prevalent early and often in the loss. The Suns got just about anything they wanted offensively in a first half, shooting 53.5% from the field on their way to a 53-45 lead. The Wolves needed a 6-0 run to end the second quarter to avoid a double-digit deficit.
"Defense has to be the main focus and right now we aren't playing any," Martell Webster said. "We have to. I am not going to point fingers at anybody. We, as a team, have to play defense."
The problems for the Wolves weren't just defensively, either. Love led the Wolves with 12 points in the first half, but he shot just 2-of-10 from the field. The team struggled as a whole offensively, shooting a mere 34.1% in the first half and 38% on the night.
Shannon Brown scored 17 and Steve Nash 14, but it wasn't the starting five that led the blowout. The Suns had three players off the bench to score in double-figures including Markieff Morris who scored 21 points.
"Their starters didn't do anything," Adelman said. "It was the bench that just destroyed us."
Love got his stats, putting up 25 points and 13 rebounds, but it is starting to appear he has hit the wall. He once again logged the most court time, playing 38 minutes despite sitting out the final six minutes of the game.
"We need to go down swinging," Love said. "That's it. Have fun with the game, live in the moment, live in the present and have fun with it. If we do that, I think we will play a lot better."
Adelman told his players that it has to come from within them. Getting beat is one thing. To roll over and allow a fringe playoff team to get whatever they want from you is another.
"I think they have to draw (leadership) from each other," he said. "If they're out there by yourself, it's not going to work. You have to draw from each other and trust each other right down the line.
"We've got to figure out what is going on here. We can get beat, but we can't play like that."
This one was over early, but it was a demoralizing 21-4 run midway through the third quarter that silenced the 17,274 fans in Target Center and gave the Wolves another candidate for most embarrassing game of the season.
2: Minutes before either team scored a basket to start the game.
27: The biggest lead for the Suns.
48: Double-doubles this season for Love, best in the league.
• Luke Ridnour missed the game and remains out indefinitely after spraining his right ankle last Monday at Sacramento. Adelman said they will wait until Tuesday to make a decision on whether or not he will travel with the team to Denver.
• Darko Milicic also sat out and has now missed five of the past six games because of a strained right hamstring. Adelman has made it no secret that Darko has been in his doghouse and provided one of the most damming quotes yet when asked before the game what his status will be moving forward. "I didn't think he was in great shape when (the hamstring injury) happened," Adelman said, "and I can't imagine how much he can help us at this point."
"It would be a lot better if he were playing."
-- Adelman on if it was nice to see Ricky Rubio back with the team. Rubio is scheduled to address reporters on Tuesday for the first time since blowing out a knee last month.
The Wolves now travel to Denver, where they will take on the Nuggets on Wednesday evening in the third of four games between the two Northwest Division foes.
The teams have split their first two games of the series, with the Wolves notching their first victory over Denver at Target Center since 2007.
The Wolves then return home to face the Los Angeles Clippers on the business-end of a back-to-back on Thursday.