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Updated: January 10th, 2014 11:06pm
Wolves put latest setback behind them, but must still find consistency

Wolves put latest setback behind them, but must still find consistency

by Nate Sandell
1500ESPN.com
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MINNEAPOLIS -- When it comes to the responsibilities of being the star of a team, Minnesota Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman acknowledges holding teammates accountable is part of the role.

But he cautions that it also has to come with a level of restraint.

"In this day and age you have to figure out how you say it, because it's going to be there forever," Adelman said.

Adelman's words of wisdom came two days after Kevin Love's pointed remarks following a disastrous late collapse against Phoenix, which were directed primarily at what Love saw as a lack of cohesion shown by teammates J.J. Barea and Dante Cunningham.

Apart from his warning, Adelman stayed away from discussing Love's postgame call out on Friday. The notion from the Wolves was that they had moved on, focused on once again getting back to the .500 mark for the fourth time in two weeks.

The judgement Love showed airing his grievances publicly was highly questionable, but his frustrations were born out of a justifiable cause. Consistency and late-game miscues have haunted the Wolves all season, brought to a boiling point in the loss to the Suns -- Minnesota's 10th defeat in games determined by four points or less.

Something has to change if the Wolves are to make a playoff run. And it seemed in Love's eyes, making his frustrations known publicly, as he had a week earlier after the bench scored only five points in a loss to Dallas, was his way of trying to spark progress.

Whether or not his comments were the cause, the Wolves, in a 119-92 romp over the lowly Charlotte Bobcats on Friday, did not look like a team that was starting to fracture and unravel. Any in-house friction caused by Love's widely discussed remarks appeared to have faded, put to rest in a team meeting on Thursday.

Questionable defense by the Wolves early allowed the Bobcats to hold tight in the first quarter, the deficit only one point entering the second frame. It was never close again.

A combined 64 points from Nikola Pekovic (26) Love (19) and Kevin Martin (19) served as the anchor as the Wolves cruised through the final three quarters. There was an obvious element of team chemistry present as well, with five players posting at least four assists.

"It was an all-around good game," Love said. "Even after halftime when we had the lead, we played well. It was never really in contention."

While the Wolves have struggled to put extended winning streaks together, they have shown an ability to bounce back after disheartening losses. With Friday's victory, Minnesota is 8-2 in games following their 10 defeats of four points or less.

Friday marked another notch in a growing trend for the Wolves: they either win big or lose close games. Minnesota owns an NBA-leading eight wins in victories of 20 points or more.

The next step for the Wolves is one that has continued to elude them as of late. With their record sitting at 18-18, two and a half games out of the final playoff spot in the Western conference, the Wolves are set up for another attempt at getting their record on the positive side of .500 for the first time since Nov. 23 (8-7).

A road win Sunday against Western Conference leader San Antonio -- obviously no easy task - would snap a streak of eight straight losses when holding a .500 record.

To do that, it will take finding and securing a cure for their troubles in the waning minutes of games.

"They want to be a good team, but they have to find out how you're going to do that," Adelman said after praising his team for dismantling Charlotte. "We're so close, losing some of those games ... The last three (losses) have been very similar. That's what we have to understand. We have to change our ways."

Friday was again a move in the right direction, but the Wolves must stay away from the bounty of setbacks that have continued to trip up their forward motion as of late.

Nate Sandell is a contributor to 1500ESPN.com.
Email Nate | @nsandell
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