SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Their playoff dreams slipping away with each loss on this elongated March road trip, discontent bubbled over in the fourth quarter of the Timberwolves' damaging 115-99 loss at Sacramento.
That's when Wolves two-time All Star forward Kevin Love and reserve guard J.J. Barea had to be separated by teammates during a timeout confrontation.
Barea stepped toward Love while the two exchanged words and Love rose from his seat on the bench until Luke Ridnour ushered Barea away and Martell Webster did the same with Love.
By then, the Wolves' third consecutive loss was all but assured, six days after they began this seven-game, 13-day road trip with a victory at Phoenix.
Love and Barea both put the same name to an afternoon when they briefly turned on each other. Meanwhile, the struggling Kings ran away to a 20-point fourth-quarter lead and a 115-point total two days after they put 120 points on the scoreboard and beat the Boston Celtics by 25.
"Frustration," Barea said.
Barea called the afternoon's outcome "terrible, worst loss of the year if you want to put it timingwise" after the Wolves committed 21 turnovers and acquiesced in a fourth quarter when they gave up the good fight, after losing in overtime at Utah on Thursday and remaining respectable against the Lakers on Friday.
"Part of the game, competitors trying to win," Barea said. "We're frustrated that we're losing, but it happens, every basketball team. We just got into it. It's all right. He said something I didn't like, I said it back and we're all good. Nothing against him."
Barea shrugged his shoulders and walked out of the locker room toward the waiting team bus bound for Monday night's game at Golden State while Love sat in full uniform, his feet in a bucket of ice, and stared dejectedly down after addressing media members.
"It's nothing personal with J.J.," Love said. "I think we're both frustrated and we took it out on each other when we should have taken it out on the other team. That was both of our mistake, both of our bad."
The Kings made eight three-pointers and turned the afternoon into both a track meet and a dunk fest. It was highlighted by Donte Greene's behind-the-head putback dunk in the second quarter and rookie Tyler Honeycutt's closing, emphatic fourth-quarter throwdown over Michael Beasley, who returned after a two-game injury absence for a Wolves team that scratched starting center Nikola Pekovic just before opening tap because of a recurring ankle injury.
"Everything we started the season trying to avoid, we did tonight," Adelman said. "You can't beat anybody doing that. Just very disappointing the way we played."
Disappointing and, yes, frustrating for a team that has fallen, since Ricky Rubio's season-ending knee injury nine days earlier, from eighth to 11th in the Western Conference, 2 1/2 games behind No. 8 Houston.
Adelman was asked after the game about the timeout dustup.
"I don't know, you have to ask them," he said. "If there's frustration on the bench, you have to direct it to who we're playing. I think that stuff is going to happen. Nobody on this team is going to do it individually. We're either going to do it as a team and together or we're not going to do it. That's what we talked about after the game, and that's what we talked about the other night when we lost. You've got to do it as a group or you're not going to break through."