Backcourt woes sink Wolves in fifth loss in a row

  • Article by: JERRY ZGODA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 25, 2012 - 8:19 AM

The starting guard tandem of Malcolm Lee and Luke Ridnour was outscored by the Warriors' starting backcourt 44-2.

OAKLAND, CALIF. -- Hurry, Ricky, hurry.

Injured Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio flies off to Colorado on Monday for a three-day visit he hopes will get him clearance to practice with his teammates by the end of the week.

His return sometime in December won't come a moment too soon, not for a Wolves team that lost its fifth consecutive game on Saturday, 96-85 at Golden State.

Afterward, Rubio sat beside Kevin Love's locker engaged in quiet conversation, following a game when the Wolves scored 11 fourth-quarter points. Golden State trailed by five before leading by 12 following an eight-minute, fourth-quarter span.

Golden State's starting backcourt of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson outscored Wolves starters Malcolm Lee and Luke Ridnour 44-2.

That's right, 44-2.

"I don't think we can say that," Love said when how he and his teammates avoid the temptation to wait for Rubio's return to fix all. "People said when we got me back that we'd be better off, but we're not closing out games. We just have to play better now and we have to play better when Ricky gets back. It's not just two, three guys in the backcourt. It's five of us out there and all the guys we have under contract."

Love produced his third double-double (15 points, 15 rebounds) in his third game back from that broken shooting hand, but he made just six of 20 shots from the floor and two of four from the free-throw line.

Midway through the fourth quarter, Love ripped off the fingerless glove that he said he would wear until January to protect that hand, flung it away and played the rest of the game without it.

The last time these teams played -- a whole eight days earlier at Target Center -- the Warriors entered without big man Andrew Bogut and clobbered a Wolves team missing Love, Nikola Pekovic and J.J. Barea on the backboards and every which way around the basket.

This time, like Portland did to the Wolves only 24 hours earlier, the Warriors dissected the Wolves' hurting and overmatched backcourt with their playmaking, shooting and scoring.

On Friday, the Trail Blazers starting backcourt of rookie Damian Lillard and Wes Matthews combined for 68 percent shooting, nine three-pointers and 58 points.

On Saturday, Curry scored 24 points and Thompson 20, while Ridnour went 1-for-7 from the floor and Lee 0-for-3. By game's end, Wolves coach Rick Adelman had turned back the clock to last season with a small, two-point guard backcourt featuring Ridnour and Barea.

Thompson, the son of former Gophers star Mychal Thompson, led all scorers despite playing only 29 seconds in the fourth quarter.

Curry, drafted seventh by the Warriors in a 2009 draft when the Wolves took Rubio fifth and Jonny Flynn sixth, also had six assists and was instrumental in a 21-4 fourth-quarter run that won the game. Veteran forward Carl Landry's dirty work inside in the fourth quarter didn't hurt, either.

"They're their main scorers," Adelman said of Thompson and Curry. "You know they're going to go to them, and we just didn't score in the fourth quarter. We were there. We just couldn't finish the game."

Wolves forward Derrick Williams, of all people, shot the Wolves back into a 77-72 lead in the fourth quarter's opening seconds. He hit two three-pointers and scored eight points in little more than a minute at the end of the third quarter and beginning of the fourth.

But the Wolves scored just eight more points after that, after Adelman subbed Pekovic and Love back into the game for Williams and Dante Cunningham for the game's final 8 1/2 minutes.

Love made one of six shots in that fourth quarter. He played the final six minutes without that protective glove that he wore partly because he says he's back three weeks early from his injury.

"It's very restrictive," Love said of the glove. "I can't bend my hand back or my wrist back all the way with that on. I have no feel for the ball. I've been shooting the ball for five days now. That has a lot to do with it. It's tough just having no feel for the basketball."

Two weeks ago, the Wolves were 5-2 and owned the franchise's best start in a decade. Now, they are 5-7 with that five-game losing streak and still must play at Sacramento and in Los Angeles against the Clippers before this four-game Western road trip ends Wednesday night.

"We just have to come together as a team," Ridnour said. "All of us have to find a way to get a win. We just have to turn the corner and get one win and I think that will turn it around."

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  • Minnesota Timberwolves' Kevin Love (42) competes for a rebound with teammate Malcolm Lee (8) in the first quarter of an NBA basketball game against the Golden State Warriors in Oakland, Calif., Saturday, Nov. 24, 2012.

  • GOLDEN STATE 96, WOLVES 85 Up next: 9 p.m. Tuesday • at Sacramento • FSN, 830-AM

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