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The Wolves’ Robbie Hummel looked for help Saturday night as Miami’s Chris Andersen applied defensive pressure.

Photos by MARLIN LEVISON • mlevison@startribune.com,

Miami Heat forward LeBron James, left, knocks a rebound away from Minnesota Timberwolves guard Kevin Martin during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game in Minneapolis, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013.

Ann Heisenfelt, Associated Press

Loss to Miami is a big step back for Wolves

  • Article by: KENT YOUNGBLOOD
  • Star Tribune
  • December 8, 2013 - 9:20 AM

It’s not like you couldn’t see this coming.

The Timberwolves were without their best player, with Kevin Love back in Portland after the death of his grandmother. The Miami Heat, meanwhile, had spent a day in Minneapolis festering over a rather sloppy two-game losing streak. These two-time defending NBA champions weren’t about to lose a third straight. That hadn’t happened in nearly two years.

And so, rather predictably, Miami dealt the offensively challenged Wolves a 103-82 defeat at Target Center.

LeBron James led the way with 21 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists for the Heat. Dwyane Wade had 19 points, four assists and five rebounds. Two Heat players — Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis — came off the bench to score in double figures.

Wolves coach Rick Adelman started Luc Mbah a Moute in Love’s spot, opting for his defense against James. But that left a lineup struggling to score. Kevin Martin scored 19, Nikola Pekovic had 18 and Corey Brewer had 13. But the Wolves shot just 24-for-82, a 29.3 percent effort that marked the worst single-game shooting performance in franchise history. It broke a record of 29.6 percent set against Dallas on Feb. 27, 2007. The Wolves also scored a season low in points and got just two points from the bench through three quarters while suffering their most one-sided loss of the season.

This was about more than not having Love in the lineup.

“We didn’t move the ball the way we talked about moving it against ’em,” Adelman said of his team, which lost for the second straight time and for the fifth time in six games. “They are active and long. They jump picks and passing lanes. And the ball has to move if you’re going to get good shots. But, even when we did get good shots, we didn’t make ’em.”

The Wolves were outscored 56-28 in the paint by a team that had struggled in that area of late. Much of that has to do with the Wolves missing too many shots there. But the hawking Miami defense led to a lot of transition basketball, with easy shots and dunks.

“It was pretty frustrating,” said Brewer, who made three of 10 shots and turned the ball over three times. He was one of four Wolves players with two or more turnovers; point guard Ricky Rubio had six by himself. “To have a few days off, and then to come out and give the effort we gave tonight? It’s not a very good feeling. But now we have a couple days off again. And we have a chance to bounce back.”

For all that, the Wolves were in position to make this a game. Trailing by 17 with 2:37 left in the second quarter, the Wolves ended the half on a 6-2 run, then started the third with a 12-2 run to pull within 59-54 on Mbah a Moute’s jumper.

But that was the end of it. Wade’s dunk started a 15-6 run to end the quarter, one in which James scored six points and had an assist. The lead was back to 16 entering the fourth quarter, and Adelman played his bench, basically, for the final 12 minutes.

“Everybody knows how they play. They play fast,” Pekovic said. “We allowed too many layups. They were flying on the fast break.”

So now the Wolves must regroup again. Love is expected back in town Sunday. He should get at least one practice in with the team before the Wolves go to Detroit to play the Pistons on Tuesday, the front end of a back-to-back. There is a lot to work on.

“This was a step back,” Adelman said.

Rubio went further: “I think tonight we took two or three steps back, in everything.”



 

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