Wolves 'did everything right' against Grizzlies, only to lose again
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MINNEAPOLIS -- The effort was improved from 24 hours ago, but the result was the same in Tuesday's 91-84 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies -- the 11th straight loss for the Minnesota Timberwolves, who extended their April winless streak to 27 games.
"I'm disappointed for the guys," coach Rick Adelman said. "They played their tails off tonight. We just couldn't get it done."
J.J. Barea was a point shy of his career high with 28 points on 10 of 20 shooting. Barea further injected life into a stale offense by dishing eight assists in a game-high 39 minutes.
"We did everything we could tonight," Barea said. "We played hard. We did everything right."
The Wolves had momentum, holding the Grizzlies scoreless for over six minutes in the fourth quarter before a controversial offensive foul on Anthony Tolliver disallowed a basket that would have given the Wolves an 83-82 lead.
Two possessions later, Rudy Gay hit a 3-pointer with 1:55 left in the game gave the Grizzlies an 87-82 lead.
Wayne Ellington trimmed that lead to three points with a fast-break lay-up, and the Wolves had the ball with a chance to tie inside of a minute, but Barea turned it over. Gay got to the free-throw line and made both shots to ice the game and take the season series against the Wolves.
The Wolves now only have four games left to try to end this losing streak and avoid sending a second consecutive season with an embarrassing skid. The Kurt Rambis era ended a year ago with a 17-game losing streak.
Despite another extended losing streak to close the season, Tolliver wouldn't draw any comparisons between this year and last.
It is different," he said. "Last year we gave up way, way early. I didn't even think we had a chance to win down the stretch because nobody really cared."
Everyone in the Wolves' locker room agreed that the game came down to that one controversial play in the fourth quarter. Trailing 82-81 with 3:50 left in the game, Tolliver was whistled for a questionable offensive foul while driving to the hope. The shot dropped and Tolliver would have been going to the line with a chance to put the Wolves up by two.
The Wolves were wise when choosing their words, not wanting to draw a fine from the league, but all admitted that the game changed after that play.
"It took the air out of us," Tolliver said. "We were definitely rolling to that point."
Tolliver declined to comment on the call itself and said the refs offered no explanation to him.
Added Ellington, "Obviously I can't comment on it too much but that was a tough call, obviously we would have liked it to go the other way. That was a tough one right there."
Barea didn't even need to be asked about the controversial play, bringing it up unprovoked.
"We had bad luck there with one play," he said. "That one play changed everything. You guys know what play I am talking about. That one play changed everything. But I am proud of the way we fought."
The Grizzlies outscored the Wolves 9-3 after the offensive foul while the Wolves allowed themselves to be taken out of the game by the officials rather than fight the good fight and persevere through the hard times.
"We just need make sure we refocus after something like that rather than let it get to us, but they did a good job of capitalizing," Tolliver sad.
The Wolves turned the ball over three times in their final four possessions and allowed the more composed, mature Grizzlies -- especially Gay and his 28 points -- to do them in.
The Wolves had chances to win the game down the stretch, even after the controversial call on Tolliver, but they were never able to mentally get back in the game.
14: Times in his last 15 games that Pekovic has reached double figures in scoring.
18: Turnovers for the Wolves. The Grizzlies turned them into 24 points.
5: 3-pointers for Barea, good for a new career high. "I was hitting my outside shots, that makes my life a lot easier," he said.
• Kevin Love missed his fourth straight game because of the concussion he suffered on last Wednesday on Denver and Adelman wasn't able to give much of an update his status moving forward.
Adelman said that he is still experiencing symptoms and hasn't even begun to take the baseline concussion tests the NBA requires in order for a player to play again. Per NBA rules, a player must be symptom-free before they can take the test.
With only three games left this season, the odds of Love returning are slim, but Adelman isn't ruling his return out and said he wants to see the two-time All-Star play again if he can get himself healthy.
"I think it is going to be how he feels and what the doctors tell us," Adelman said. "I know he has to pass the tests, there is nothing going to happen until then."
"If he is healthy, I'd certainly like to see him play. We'll just have to see."
• Luke Ridnour was at the arena getting treatment on his sprained right ankle but missed his eight straight game.
Adelman had remained hopeful the veteran would have returned by now but said he is getting less optimistic. He said they are shooting for a return next Sunday against the Golden State Warriors, meaning he has already been ruled out for Thursday's game at Detroit.
• Nikola Pekovic continues to play through pain from the bone spurs in his ankle. Pekovic confirmed he will undergo cleanup surgery two weeks after the season ends to alleviate the pain from getting up and down the court in his 6-foot-11, 290 pound frame.
Adelman said he has had talks with the training staff about shutting Pekovic down for the season if the pain gets to be too much to handle.
"The trainer and I have talked about that. He is a pretty tough guy but if it is really bothering him then it makes no sense to play him," Adelman said.
After Pekovic's 16 point, 11 rebound performance, Adelman was enthused and optimistic that that his only healthy center might be able to finish the season.
The season continues to creep to a merciful ending so the Wolves can finally be put out of their misery.
The Wolves have the day off Wednesday and will travel to Detroit ahead of Thursday's game against the Pistons. The Wolves were victorious in their only other meeting with Detroit (22-38) in a 93-85 victory back in Jan and h old a three game win streak in the series.
From there, the Wolves return home for the penultimate game of the season against the Golden State Warriors on Sunday.