After a day off Thursday, the Wolves returned to the practice court Friday. Guess what coach Rick Adelman stressed?
Not surprising, after what happened against Golden State at Target Center on Wednesday, when the Wolves built a big lead in the first half only to see it slip away. The Warriors used Wolves turnovers at one end and poor defense at the other to put 38 third-quarter points on the board, the most by a Wolves opponent this season.
So Adelman stressed defensive improvement, knowing full well that an injury has robbed him of his best perimeter defender, Ricky Rubio.
"It starts on the perimeter, and we have to do a better job," Adelman said. "We're not keeping people in front of us. ... Guys have to make an effort.''
Already it has become clear that Rubio's defense was a big -- if underrated -- part of his game. Still, even without him, the Wolves need to do some things better.
Adelman said his players, as a group, are reacting rather than anticipating what offenses are doing. That clearly frustrates Adelman.
"It's pretty easy to see what [other teams] are doing," he said. "There aren't a whole lot of different offenses around the league. It's how they execute it. We're reacting to things. That puts us in scramble mode."
To Kevin Love, it is all a matter of effort.
"Last game we had a major letdown on the defensive end," he said. "When our offense isn't going, our defense has to pick up. That happened earlier in the season. We know we're capable of it. We just have to bring the effort."
Love said that effort might have been lacking recently.
"We need to play 48 good, solid minutes," he said. "I think we played 21 good minutes in the first half [against Golden State]."
Guard J.J. Barea said the team needs to communicate better on defense.
"We have to talk," he said. "We don't talk. We have to want to get stops. We have to get back to the mindset of getting stops."
Fighting through fatigue
After the Golden State loss Love talked about the toll big minutes had taken on his play. Friday he sounded like a different man.
"Just have to continue to keep playing, continue to produce," he said. "I think everybody's tired at this point. I have to continue to fight through this."
Said Adelman: "We have to win games. So Kevin, a lot of times, if you take him out of the game we might slip 10 points."
• Forward Michael Beasley, who is battling a sore big toe, was able to practice Friday and was scheduled to travel with the team. Beasley has missed the past five games.
• Luke Ridnour (sprained ankle) told Adelman on Friday that he hopes to be ready to return to action Monday against Phoenix. Adelman, though, sounded skeptical.
"He's a tough guy," Adelman said. "He says he's going to be back Monday. If we could get him back by the Denver game [next Wednesday] or the Clipper game [Thursday], that would be good. He's pointing at Monday's game, but I'd be surprised."
• Center Darko Milicic remains on the periphery. Adelman said Milicic wasn't going on the trip to New Orleans.