Take one lopsided loss in Denver the night before. Mix in more than an hour sitting in a plane while it’s being de-iced. Take away one hour for Daylight Saving Time and add a well-rested group of Dallas Mavericks.
Mix it together and what you get is less than stirring.
In a 100-77 loss to Dallas at Target Center on Sunday night, the Timberwolves looked like a team worn down by a hectic weekend of travel and a season of injury-riddled losses.
“It’s been a lot of things,” guard Ricky Rubio said. “We’ve been playing with eight, nine players a long time, and you get tired. But we have to fight every night. … Tonight we didn’t fight at all.”
Vince Carter came off the bench to score 22 points for the Mavericks (29-33), who used a 25-5 run that began with the Wolves leading 18-16 with 1 minute, 31 seconds left in the first quarter and ended when Brandan Wright hit a free throw 4:57 into the second quarter that gave Dallas a 41-23 lead. Dirk Nowitzki had 16 points and Wright had 13.
The culprit, over and over, was makeable shots the Timberwolves missed. For the fourth time in seven games, the Wolves shot less than 40 percent, sinking 32 of 88 shots overall and making only two of 18 three-point-attempts.
Injuries or not, Wolves coach Rick Adelman has seen just about enough misses for one season. The Wolves are 28th in the NBA in shooting, 30th in three-point shooting, 24th in shooting free throws. And while travel was an issue — the Wolves didn’t get home from Denver until nearly 4 a.m. Sunday — Adelman isn’t ready to blame all of this just on that.
“It’s an area we’re going to really have to look seriously at,” Adelman said of the team’s shooting. “Because it’s pretty obvious that our shooting this year, regardless of injuries, has been really poor. It’s hard to win games if you can’t make shots in this league.”
Derrick Williams had 18 points and nine rebounds for the Wolves, but he needed 17 shots to get those points. Luke Ridnour was 3-for-9, Rubio 3-for-12. The Wolves bench, outscored 58-22 by the Mavericks reserves, shot a combined 8-for-30.
Taking advantage of a tired Wolves team, the Mavericks rotated a lot of players in the first half and kept the tempo up, eventually wearing down Minnesota. Still, the Wolves were able to get many open shots. They just couldn’t hit most of them.
“We have to play 48 minutes and tonight we didn’t have it,” said Wolves guard J.J. Barea, who came off the bench to score 16 points on 6-for-15 shooting. “I think we’re going to break the record for bad three-point shooting. Maybe we’ll get all the bad shooting out of the way this year and come back next year.”
The Wolves (21-39) have lost two in a row, eight of 10 and won only six of 25 since Kevin Love got hurt in Denver Jan. 3.
No sleep and no victories can be a debilitating combination.
“It’s all a combination,” Adelman said. “We’ve got to regroup. [After the game] we talked about how we have to regroup and respond on Tuesday. We didn’t have it tonight, for the most part. We were a step behind. I think it’s physical and mental both.”