Perhaps the most positive thing to come out of the Timberwolves’ almost-but-not-quite comeback Wednesday night was that nobody was about to blame injuries for the loss.
“No, no not even close to that,” said guard Luke Ridnour. “We don’t use that as an excuse or anything. We fought hard, we came back, we gave them a little gap that we shouldn’t have given them, but we just missed too many free throws, the little things. But we still had a chance to win that game.”
If the Wolves had completed the comeback from 14 down with 4:22 left in the game it would have been one of the more inspiring victories in recent memory.
Unfortunately, the Wolves couldn’t get over the hump.
The biggest problem, of course, was free throws. Minnesota was 20-for-37 from the free throw line. That includes a 4-for-7 by Derrick Williams, 1-for-4 by Greg Stiemsma, 1-for-4 from Lou Amundson. Even Luke Ridnour, a career 87-percent free throw shooter, was 3-for-5 with a big miss in the fourth quarter.
After the game coach Rick Adelman harped on offensive execution, not injuries.
“Guys need to understand that it doesn’t matter with all the people out,” he said. “We have the ability to win games. WE have to have the energy level. We have to play harder than the other team. We have to find a way to manufacture points, and we struggle with that.”
Some other nuggets from Wednesday:
--Alexey Shved had some growing pains tonight, making some big shots but also making five turnovers, including one late.
--Lou Amundson played OK as the backup center, getting seven rebounds and three blocks in 22-plus minutes.
--Derrick Williams has got to figure out a way to finish at the rim.
--Center Greg Stiemsma, in the starting lineup with Nikola Pekovic injured, had a difficult game, with one point, seven rebounds and three turnovers in 21 ½ minutes. He did have two blocks, though.
--Andrei Kirilenko had a wonderful night, hitting nine of 12 shots for a season-high 26 points. He also had 12 rebounds. But he had five turnovers. He and Shved had 10 of the Wolves’ 17 turnovers.
--It appeared guard Malcolm Lee might have gotten injured late. But it turned out to be cramps. He’ll be fine.
That’s about all for the night. I’ll get back to you after tomorrow’s practice.