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Minnesota Timberwolves having troubles in third quarters

Coach Tom Thibodeau trying to get young team to understand value of preparation

Fran Blinebury

The third quarter continues to be anything but a charm for the Timberwolves. In fact, it’s more like a trapdoor in a haunted house that falls out from beneath their feet.

Once again on Saturday night, Minnesota collapsed just after halftime in a 112-92 loss at Oklahoma City to continue a nagging problem through the start of the season.

When Andrew Wiggins dropped in a four-footer with 9:11 to go in the quarter, the Wolves were down just 63-60. But over the next five minutes, the Thunder went on an 18-1 tear that blew open the game and might blow the top off coach Tom Thibodeau’s head.

The Wolves were outscored 31-19 in the quarter and now have been outscored by a combined 121-61 in the third quarter of their losses on the season. So now a team that a lot of folks thought could challenge for a playoff spot in the Western Conference is 1-4 and floundering.

Yes, they are a young team. Yes, they are lacking in maturity and NBA experience. But Thibodeau was already questioning his club’s discipline and commitment before the latest collapse.

Prior to the flight to OKC on Friday, Thibodeau cancelled the scheduled practice and had his group spend several hours in a disaster film season that might have looked like Independence Day, Twister and Night of the Living Dead all rolled into one.

“You have to have a discipline in how you prepare and understand what goes into winning,” Thibodeau told reporters. “And everyone is capable of doing that, and not get sidetracked with all the stuff that goes on in this league. … That’s why hopefully you’re building the right habits, and understanding how you prepare each night, and readiness is huge. The locker rooms I’ve been in where you have winning teams, big winning teams, they’re talking basketball. They’re not talking all the other stuff. They’re talking about what’s going to happen in the game. And that’s got to be our mind-set.

“Getting ready to play is something you can’t start the day of the game. It has to begin earlier. You have to know your opponent well, you have to know all the players. You have to know their system, you have to know our system. Preparation is not something you can turn on or off.”

Then the Wolves went out and got flattened. Better stock up on popcorn.

Fran Blinebury has covered the NBA since 1977. You can e-mail him here and follow him on Twitter.

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