Adelman: Wolves need return of cooler heads

  • Article by: KENT YOUNGBLOOD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 15, 2012 - 12:05 PM

It's a bad cycle: Shots aren't falling, anxiety rises, plays are forced, and turnovers multiply.

It all works together, Wolves coach Rick Adelman said.

Shots aren't falling, so players get anxious, everybody tries to do too much and suddenly the ball is flying everywhere but through the hoop.

The Wolves enter Wednesday's game with Charlotte on a four-game losing streak, their longest of the season. As Adelman noted, what a difference a week makes.

"Four games ago we'd just won five out of seven and everything was fine," he said. "And now the world's come to an end."

So the focus of Tuesday's practice was to turn the clock back about a week to a point where the Wolves were playing harder, with more confidence and making better decisions.

That last part is the key.

The recent penchant for costly turnovers continued in Orlando on Monday. And while the total number of turnovers (18) dropped a bit, Adelman was unhappy that point guards Ricky Rubio (five) and J.J. Barea (seven) accounted for 12 of them.

In Barea's case, Adelman sees a player trying too hard.

"He's trying to get to the basket, and there is no room there," he said.

As for Rubio, Adelman said he sees a talented rookie who is also pressing.

"He's trying to make things happen," Adelman said. "It's a matter of trying to make the home run play rather than the simple play. We tried to go through some things [Tuesday] that should help our team. He's like any rookie -- he's trying to do the right thing. But you're going to go through stages, there will be tough parts to the season."

And, as Adelman notes, it's not all the guards' fault.

He sees post players not sealing off well enough to make them easy targets for an entry pass, then trying to make a move before securing the ball.

And then there is the shooting. The Wolves have had a lot of difficulty hitting jumpers of late. The team has shot below its season average of 42.8 percent shooting in three of the four recent losses. And from three-point range, the problem is even worse, with the team going 22-for-82 (26.8 percent) from beyond the arc the past four games.

As a result, Adelman said, the guards are trying too hard to set up the easy basket rather than make the easy play.

"For the most part, we're not shooting the ball very well, and that causes a lot of anxiety," Adelman said.

Adelman and his staff tweaked some things in execution during practice, hoping to cut down on turnovers. Ultimately, though, players will have to start hitting shots. But, in the short term, getting his team to take better care of the ball is the first priority.

"For instance, we come out and maybe play pick and roll, and you have an easy pass right next to you, and you try to cross-court it and they intercept it," Adelman said. "You have to make better decisions. We talked to 'em, showed 'em film."

Adelman said he and his staff discussed possible lineup changes, but was leaning on keeping things the same and instead emphasizing execution. That means Luke Ridnour, who missed Monday's game for personal reasons, should be back in the starting lineup after returning to practice Tuesday.

"We need to take the shots that are there for us, and shoot them with confidence," Kevin Love said. "If we do that, we'll be a lot better off. We just need to make sure we're getting shots up; we can't have all those turnovers. We'll clean it up and move forward."

Lee returns

Malcolm Lee, fresh off his rehab stint with Sioux Falls of the Development League, was back at practice. He said his surgically repaired knee was "90 percent'' and that he was ready to go. But Adelman said Lee will need a bit more work before he sees NBA action. Adelman didn't rule out another stint in Sioux Falls for Lee.

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