One month in, Wolves struggling to shake off obvious inconsistencies
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Grueling schedule or not, the Minnesota Timberwolves are in a funk.
Back in town after a disappointing two-game road trip to Houston and Indiana, the Wolves have stumbled to losses in four of their last five games. An impressive 5-3 start to the year has slowly faded in a wave of inconsistent play.
In a way, the Wolves have hit the reset button, having fallen back to the .500 mark 16 games in (8-8).
"It's been pretty frustrating ... We're kind of starting over now. We're 0-0 now, basically," forward Corey Brewer said slyly.
The feeling at the Wolves' shootaround session Wednesday, prior to their second meeting of the year with Denver, was one of a heightened awareness that they don't have much room for error. A match-up against the 7-6 Nuggets, who bested the Wolves two weeks ago in Denver, is of the variety Minnesota can't let slip away.
On Tuesday, after the Wolves pulled off a deal with Sacramento to swap Derrick Williams for defensive specialist Luc Mbah a Moute, president of basketball operations Flip Saunders offhandedly mentioned that Minnesota's fledgling squad is about where he pictured it would be one month into the season.
There is a slight edge of disappointment among the players about their recent struggles, but it comes with the understanding they let several winnable games elude them, due in large part to self-inflicted mistakes.
"I was hoping we'd have a couple, maybe a few more wins under our belt," Kevin Love said. "And we could have, had a couple games gone our way, late game situations. But we just have a hell of a road here this first month, two months ... So we just need to continue to fight."
The glimmers of the Wolves' potential have still been there. Only four times in 16 games have they scored less than 100 points, ranking fifth in the NBA in scoring (105.4 ppg).
And for an example of how quickly a season can regain momentum, look no further than the Wolves' Wednesday night opponent. The Denver Nuggets battled obvious inconsistencies at the start of last season, floating around the .500 mark until they plateaued at a 12-12 record. They went on to lose only 13 more regular season games to finish with 57 wins.
Odds and ends
• The Wolves have shot 41% from the floor (266-of- 649) in their last seven games, tied with the Chicago Bulls for the NBA's second-lowest shooting mark in that stretch.
• Mbah a Moute was not at shootaround, busy going through a physical and other "first day with a new team" tasks. There was no word from the Wolves on whether or not Mbah a Moute will play against the Nuggets.
• Love, for one, is well acquainted with his new/old teammate. Love and Mbah a Moute are back together on the same team six years after they were both in the starting lineup for the 2007-08 UCLA Bruins.
"I'm very happy to have Luc around," Love said. "Obviously it's sad to lose D-Will. But we wish him the best - I think everybody does - in Sacramento. But, having Luc around brings a guy who, defensively, is going to be great for us. He can guard multiple positions, can score the ball if need be. Just a great guy to have around, period."