Howling Wolves Deal With Quiet Time


VIDEO: The Rockets beat the Timberwolves 112-101 on Saturday

Remember when the Timberwolves were something to howl about?

It was less than two weeks ago when the ball and the shots were moving through the offense like they were notes in a symphony.

You could pull on your parka and a pair of mukluks, then squint your eyes and imagine you were watching the Spurs North.

You could see Ricky Rubio spinning, darting and creating with only the edges of his imagination as a limit, see Kevin Love go down low to score in the post and then come outside and make it rain from behind the 3-point line, see Kevin Martin drop in all those improbable shots from all those impossible difficult angles.

The Timberwolves were 6-3 right out of the box and they were a team that could dance right off into the stars.

But now they have two left feet. All of a sudden, they can’t shoot, can’t defend, can’t muster up enough energy to take the floor and make their coach happy.

“You can look at stats all you want, but we didn’t have enough,” said Rick Adelman after their fourth loss in six games, a flogging by the James Harden-less Rockets. “I don’t know if it’s mental fatigue or whatever. We just have to do a better job and the schedule doesn’t matter.”

The schedule has turned brutal of late, serving up nine games in 14 nights, five in seven, including rising teams such as the Clippers and Rockets and next up are the East-leading Pacers.

“We play 18 games right off the bat this month,” Love said. “It’s tough. I think that’s really what it is. Plus we’re playing some really good teams. So it hasn’t been easy for us.”

One of the things that makes it hard has been the continuing struggles of Rubio to put the ball into the basket. For all of the wizardry that he uses to set up his teammates for easy baskets, the 23-year-old doesn’t seem to have a trick up his sleeve to help himself.

Rubio has made half his shots from the field only five times in the first 15 games, shooting just 34.7 percent. Now in his third NBA season, Rubio has scored 15 or more points in a game while making half his shots only nine times. The Wolves are 6-3 in those games. It’s just not that simplistic, but if Rubio could learn to shoot, the Wolves could take a big permanent step forward.

“It’s a lot easier when all your guys can make shots,” Adelman said. “He’s such a good passer and creator that if he’s making shots it makes it very difficult for the other team. They can’t go under screens, pick and rolls and things like that. It’s a process he’s going to have to go through.

“This is the first year he’s had training camp since he’s been in the league. He’s been hurt or we had a short training camp. It’s going to take time. He’s playing well and hopefully he’s to going to make shots.”

They’re a team that has Love and Rubio back in the lineup after being plagued by injuries a year ago and they have small forward Corey Brewer back with the club after signing as a free agent over the summer. They have big man Nikola Pekovic doing all that he can in the middle and with Chase Budinger again sidelined by injury, they’ve sucked everything they can out of Martin as if he were a water hose in the desert.

“We were the worst outside shooting team in the league last year,” Adelman said. “So having Kevin opens things up. And having the other Kevin (Love) back opens things up too. Last year we were firing blanks. We didn’t really have a lot of answers. This year we have a few more.”

They are still a team that has less depth than a wading pool and could use former No. 2 overall pick Derrick Williams to be something more than a massive bust or Alexey Shved or Dante Cunningham or Robbie Hummel or anyone to step up.

“We’re a solid team,” Martin said. “We got some work to do. It’s a long season. Everybody goes through their tough stretches with a tough schedule…We feel like we’re right in there. We’ve got a lot of things to work on. Just got to weather the storm right now.”

9 Comments

  1. jdub4551 says:

    i think trading derrick williams asap would help the team a lot. they were playing great b4 the trade rumours. rumours like that may either motivate/depress a player and i think williams is not playing hard at all. their offense is great but erratic at times and their defense is not solid. they need a guy like turiaf. but since he’s injured, i think they need more minutes from dieng. also, if they wont use muhammad, trade him! how about an asik – derrick williams + muhammad trade? i agree with exiled in saying that coach adelman is a brilliant coach but is kind of unlucky (injuries to key players)… i’m a wolves fan in the west!! go wolves!! hey ricky, i’m a fan, but please work on your jump shot!! if you have that in your arsenal, believe me, you would be a hall of fame player! ciao…

  2. noname says:

    Soooooooooo many cliches in this! Tough to take it seriously.

  3. NYC says:

    Look at OKC and the Clippers neither team was anywhere near good and in a few years and a few players their tops in their league, the East just needs two more teams like that and they’ll have 4,5 ,6 solid teams.

  4. qq says:

    If Jeremy Lin played for a team in the east he would probaly make the allstar team, it says alot of the talent difference in those conferences.

  5. exiled says:

    For me couch adelman is great but so unlucky

  6. OKC says:

    Well ideally the east will continue getting more and more high draft picks and hopefully the level of talent will balance out, but that hasn’t been the case so far. Lots of number one picks go to the east, besides Anthony Davis its been mostly eastern teams recently.

  7. okc2014 says:

    The East stinks!!! Only Miami Indiana and Atlanta should be in the seeding. All the other teams are struggling. I agree, the playoffs should really be the top 16 teams, regardless of what conference their in. No fair!

  8. Canadian Pride says:

    Does anyone not find it ridiculous at the discrepancy between the east and the west. I find it ridiculous that the third place in the east would only make it in eight place in the West. I is time for the commissioner to step up and take the sixteen best teams into the playoffs. It baffles me everytime i look at the standings.
    Minnesota were in the east right now they would be in fourth place. Ridiculous!

    • Andrew says:

      I couldn’t agree with you more. The problem with doing the top 16 would be the regular season schedule.