For a half, Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman's ever-shrinking roster of healthy players played with energy and efficiency.
Of course, that wasn't enough.
Whether it was a matter of attrition or simply a lapse in attention, the Timberwolves, playing one game after losing Kevin Love to a concussion, were officially eliminated from the playoffs with a 95-82 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers at Target Center on Thursday night.
"We just ran out of gas," Adelman said.
Either that or the Clippers, vying for playoff position, just put their collective foot on the gas. Down five, the Wolves were outscored 16-4 to start the fourth quarter. Minnesota has now lost eight in a row and is facing the possibility of playing out the string without Love in the lineup.
"We can't let anything get us down," said Michael Beasley, who came off the bench to post his fourth double-double of the season (14 points and 10 rebounds in 31 minutes) and his first since Feb. 7 vs. Sacramento. He and Anthony Randolph (16 points, nine rebounds) both offered energy off the bench. "Losses hurt, don't get me wrong. Especially so many in a row. You just have to keep pushing."
The Wolves certainly pushed in the first half, during which guard J.J. Barea became the fourth Wolves player in 15 seasons to get a points-assists double-double in the first half of a game.
Really, the problems started when Barea was hit in the face by Chris Paul late in the first half. Barea went into the dressing room to get eight stitches, and he returned for the second half. But the Wolves never really clicked again on offense. After shooting 52.5 percent in the first half, they tied a season low with 34 points in the second half, when they shot just 27 percent.
"It's hard to run an offense because we don't have any chemistry right now because of all the different players playing," Adelman said.
Especially when the Clippers packed the lane in the second half, forcing the Wolves to shoot jumpers. And the jumpers didn't fall.
The Clippers got 19 points and 13 rebounds from forward Blake Griffin and 17 points from Caron Butler. Mo Williams, who had missed 11 games because of injury, returned to score 14 off the bench.
The Wolves, meanwhile, wore down. Forward Anthony Tolliver took a hit to the head and was held out of much of the fourth quarter. He'll be OK, but Adelman, who started the game with just 10 available players, just couldn't give anybody a rest.
After expressing some frustration after playing less than 10 minutes in Denver, Beasley took a step back while talking pregame Thursday.
"Of course it's frustrating," he said. "But I'm here for the team. I'm not here for myself. As long as we progress and get better as a team, I'm happy. As far as me in the summertime, where I'm going to play [next season]? If I will return? I just let everything play out."
• Guard Wayne Ellington (back spasms) missed his second straight game.
• Point guard Luke Ridnour (sprained ankle) missed his fifth game, and Adelman said he didn't know when Ridnour would return.