The Minnesota Timberwolves rally numerous times against their soaring opponent, but the Wolves for numerous reasons could not hold the lead, or their own in the fourth quarter.
Sound familiar? Well history has found a way to repeat itself last night when Wolves lost their fourth straight game to the Houston Rockets 107-89. This also means they have now lost six of the last seven games and to make matters worse, yes it gets worse; they are now four games below .500 for the first this year.
“We just couldn’t make shots,” said Terry Porter, who was filling in for head coach Rick Adelman, who was absent due to personal reasons. “We had stretches where we had quality possessions … But they ran out on our turnovers just like they ran out on our missed shots.”
Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Martin being injured has depleted the lineup, but the problems that have haunted the Wolves in the last two weeks are not much different from the ones that have prevented any sort of consistency from forming all season long.
Pekovic has been sidelined two weeks with a sore right ankle, and his return date remains a mystery. Martin, nursing a broken thumb in his non-shooting hand, isn’t expected back until after the All-Star break.
One game from the All-Star break, time is slipping away from the Wolves and their weakening playoff hopes. There are 30 games remaining so Minnesota can’t be written off yet, but they would have to come back hard in the second half of the season to claim a playoff spot in the Western Conference.
“It’s burning the candle on both ends basically with there being less and less games. We just can’t continue to lose,” said forward Kevin Love who returned after sitting out Saturday against Portland because of ongoing pain in his left knee. Even with his injury Love scored 31 points and had 10 rebounds, but he was far from 100 percent.
“It was tough today to get up and down the court,” Love said. “In the half court I was fine, but just to (go up and down) was tough. But knock on wood, if I don’t get it banged again it’ll start to feel better. We’ll just have to see how it goes.”
The injuries shouldn’t be used as a scapegoat, but they have only made a bad situation worse. The Wolves have gone 2-6 since Pekovic was ruled out indefinitely on January 28th.
“This is a tough stretch for us … Mentally, I think we’re beat up a little bit, but we have to respond,” Porter said. “Nobody is going to feel sorry for us, I can tell you that much.”
The Wolves do have have a glimmer of hope on Wednesday when they play the Nuggets. This could soften their downward trend before the break. But this opportunity is one the Wolves can’t afford to miss as the window to fix this season starts to close shut.
“We’ve just got to keep pushing, regardless of whether we feel (the toll) or not,” center Ronny Turiaf said. “When you have tough stretches like that, it reveals character. You either cave in or just try to keep your head above water.”