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Practice Report | Wolves Search For Consistency Before Four-Game Road Trip
By now you’ve probably heard that the Wolves’ Sunday afternoon loss to the Grizzlies was rather forgettable.
According to Wolves point guard Shabazz Napier, complacency and inadequate respect for the shorthanded Grizzlies were both reasons for the Wolves’ fifth-straight home loss and fourth loss to a below .500 team.
“I think yesterday we just didn’t come to play,” Napier said at Monday’s practice. “We didn’t show no respect to the other team, and that’s what happens.”
How do the Wolves plan to mitigate lackadaisical performances?
“You have to try to generate the energy from within,” Coach Ryan Saunders said. “We had a couple of guys who tried to do that, but we have to find our way in terms of, you know, whether we’re generating energy from each other off the bench (or) in the game.”
The Wolves will need to tap into that internal energy quickly as they take on a four-game road trip in which they’ll face two of the West’s top teams — the Lakers and Mavericks — along with pesky Suns and Thunder teams. The Wolves will begin their trip in Dallas on Wednesday, face the Thunder on Friday, then play back-to-back road games against the Lakers and Suns on Sunday and Monday.
Last year, the Wolves were just 2-8 on the road after Nov. 30. Heading into the upcoming four-game road trip, the Wolves boast a 7-2 away record, which is good for third-best in the league. Saunders believes the 2019-20 Wolves team is better equipped to face road adversity than last year’s team was but knows he and his players can’t pay their current road record too much mind considering what’s next for them.
“This is a tough road trip coming up here,” Saunders said. “We’ve had good road wins so far, and obviously you feel good about those, but these other teams are teams that are competing in the West and competing at a high level. We have our work cut out for us.”
Napier played nine minutes in Sunday’s game after missing 12 straight games due to a hamstring injury but has only played three games in Target Center this season. He doesn’t give much credence to the idea that the location of the Wolves’ games affects their performances.
“No one is worried about home or away,” Napier said. “We just play the game. At the end of the day, either you have fans there for you or you don’t. For myself, it’s never really about whether you’re home or away. I guess we’ve just been playing better on the road for certain reasons, and that’s just how it goes sometimes.”
Saunders and Napier know their team’s focus can’t be set on where their games are played or what their opponents’ record is. Instead, they have to treat every game with an equal amount of respect and urgency — regardless of the location.
“Unfortunately, the natural tendency as competitors, especially in professional sports, when you see your schedule and you see who you’re playing, sometimes you let your guard down a little bit,” Saunders said. “I’d like to think that our guys see the task at hand coming up here. We’ve all got to do a better job of making sure that everybody takes every game with the same sense of urgency especially early on in games and not letting teams get comfortable.”