Turnovers turn a lead into a loss for Wolves

  • Article by: KENT YOUNGBLOOD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 12, 2012 - 11:38 PM

After losing to the Knicks, Rick Adelman said his team is being too casual with the ball.

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Folks used lots of different ways to describe the Timberwolves' 100-98 loss at a packed Target Center on Saturday night. Here are a few:

• Lethargic, said Kevin Love. This after Love (32 points, 21 rebounds) got his franchise-record sixth game with 30 or more points and 20 or more rebounds. Lethargic? Well, how else to describe a team that blew a seven-point fourth-quarter lead by managing only one field goal over the final 9 1/2 minutes? "We have to bring back our intensity," Love said after the Wolves had lost for the third consecutive time. "I'm actually happy we're going out on the road. We seem to play better [there]."

• Lackadaisical, Wolves coach Rick Adelman said that after his team had turned the ball over 23 times. This after a 28-turnover performance vs. Dallas on Friday.

"Again, turnovers," Adelman lamented. "It seems like we're back where we were three weeks ago. You just can't keep giving teams possession like that. And then you lose a close game ..."

Saturday's game was billed as a matchup between Ricky Rubio and Knicks phenom point guard Jeremy Lin. Lin was the real deal while scoring 15 first-half points. The Wolves, forcing Lin to his left, held him to just five points in the second half.

But, with the score tied and the clock ticking down, Tyson Chandler got Rubio with a jarring (and, Adelman suggested, a moving) pick, freeing Lin to get to his right hand, get into the lane and get fouled. Lin made one of two free throws with 4.9 seconds left to give the Knicks the lead for good.

Out of a timeout, Rubio committed the Wolves' final turnover of the night.

Afterward Rubio took the blame.

It was his turnover in the lane that led to Lin's free throws at the other end. And it was his turnover coming out of the timeout. Of course, it was also Rubio (12 points, eight assists, two turnovers) whose driving left-handed layup with 39.9 seconds left gave the Wolves a 98-95 lead.

But then? Well, lackadaisical. Out of a timeout, a quick Chandler pick freed Steve Novak for a wide-open three-pointer. And then Chandler stole the ball from Rubio. You know the rest.

On Friday, Dallas scored 30 points off Minnesota turnovers. Saturday, the Knicks, who won for the fifth time in a row, got 29.

"You have to value the ball more," Adelman said. "You have to make better decisions. They double us in the post, we throw it away. Sometimes we're trying to make the home-run play, rather than the pass that leads to the assist. ... It's just a casualness with the ball."

While the Wolves were slowing Lin in the second half, other Knicks filled in. Landry Fields scored 10 second-half points, Iman Shumpert got 13 of his 20 in the final two quarters.

All this negated another strong performance by Love, a 21-point, 13-rebound game from Nikola Pekovic and 11 points and five assists off the bench by J.J. Barea.

Looking for another word? Here are two: No fun.

"We're not having fun like we were when we were winning games," Barea said. "We're turning the ball over like crazy. I don't know, we're just not clicking right now. We need to get it together."

Because the numbers don't lie.

The Wolves scored a season-low 11 fourth-quarter points. The Wolves hit just three of 19 fourth-quarter shots.

"We're used to executing and winning basketball games [down the stretch]," Love said. "We're still a young team, and we need to grow -- and as a unit. It can't just be a couple of us."

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