Practice Report | Dec. 31, 2013

Practice Report | Dec. 31, 2013

The Timberwolves responded to the NBA’s announcement earlier on Tuesday that Monday’s final play against Dallas in a 100-98 loss should have resulted in sending forward Kevin Love to the free-throw line. The Wolves acknowledged the message, then moved on and set their focuses toward New Orleans coming into town on Wednesday night.

“Life goes on,” Love said after Tuesday’s practice. “We had a good practice today, and we have another team coming in tomorrow that’s in the same position we’re in—one game over .500 and needs to get over the hump.”

The Wolves trailed by two with less than four seconds left on the clock when Ricky Rubio inbounded the ball to Love in the left corner. Love, guarded by Shawn Marion, made a quick move and tried to put up a shot but had the ball knocked away as time expired. The play was ruled a non-foul, but the NBA stepped in today and said that call wasn’t correct.

In a statement from the NBA’s Rod Thorn, the league said after a postgame video review it had determined Love was fouled on the right arm by Marion. Love should have been awarded two free throws with one second left on the clock, the statement said.

For the Wolves, the wake of that call—which would have put Love at the line with a chance to tie the game—leaves them three games back of Dallas for the eighth spot in the Western Conference and makes this upcoming home contest against the Pelicans that much more important. Minnesota is trying to get back to .500, and they’re also trying to gain ground against another squad in the West looking to sneak into that eighth spot.

In order to ensure another late-game situation doesn’t occur, Love and coach Rick Adelman both said it’s important to get off to a fast start and not put themselves in position where they trail by 21 on their home court and need to climb back.

Against Dallas, that’s exactly what happened. Love blamed effort—particularly on defense—as why the Wolves fell behind early. Being able to put together a full 48 minutes has been a point of emphasis for the team this season, and the Dallas game was another example of the importance of starting and finishing with intensity.

“It was a big game for us and them and we got ourselves buried, and tomorrow is the same thing,” Adelman said. “It’s a pretty good team we’re playing, and the same position we’re in. We have to regroup and come out a lot better tomorrow than we did last night.”

Adelman said the team has addressed that intensity level all season—especially on the defensive end. Minnesota can score and will score, but the Timberwolves need to find a way to play consistent defense. That includes crisper rotations, stepping in to take charges, cutting off dribble penetration and ensuring 3-point shooters like Marion last night don’t get open looks from behind the arc.

Adelman said it’s essential for this team to defend and rebound, especially in close games. And on days like today, it’s important to be able to respond.

“You have to come back, Adelman said. “You have to be resilient in this league. Hopefully as the year goes on, you will get better as a team.”

Love said it all comes down to effort.

“We have to be one of the scrappiest if not the scrappiest team in the league,” Love said.

Quick Hits

  • Love said Shawn Marion’s 32-point outburst on Monday was something out of last decade: “I don’t think he’d had a game like that—that was the ’07 Marion right there or the ’05. Shawn Marion right now, that was the matrix.”

  • Chase Budinger and Ronny Turiaf were both participating in a game of half-court 3-on-3 ball after practice on Tuesday. Still no official timetable on their returns, but it seems as though they’re on a good trajectory to return in the near future.

  • I spoke with Gorgui Dieng today after practice about facing Anthony Davis as part of the Louisville vs. Kentucky rivalry in the Blue Grass State. In Davis’ one year with the Wildcats, the two teams faced each other twice—including once in the Final Four. Dieng was, as always, very insightful about that rivalry and those matchups with Davis. Look for more on that tomorrow.

  • For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Timberwolves and Mark Remme on Twitter.