Barea can't halt a cruel April, Wolves lose 11th straight

  • Article by: JERRY ZGODA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 18, 2012 - 9:10 AM

He scored 28 filling a void in injury-depleted leadership, but the Wolves couldn't avoid a dubious record.

A ruthless questioner asked Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman the impossible after Tuesday's 91-84 loss to Memphis at Target Center ... and the wily ol' veteran answered it.

The questioner asked a man whose team is missing its two biggest stars and hasn't won a game in April since 2009 what one thing he would most like to add.

"One thing?" Adelman asked back, almost incredulously.

How you do choose just one for a team that lost its 11th consecutive game -- and its eighth in a row to the Grizzlies -- while once again playing without injured Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio, Luke Ridnour and even Darko Milicic, if you really want to add him to the list?

But Adelman did.

"We need more ballhandlers," he said. "We need to have guys who can put it on the floor and make plays. It can't just be the point guard, especially when the game is on the line."

And then Adelman mentioned a Memphis team that has guys like Mike Conley, Rudy Gay and O.J. Mayo who can provide the playmaking that his unbalanced and depleted roster lacks.

Adelman presumably was talking both big picture for a team that needs to add a small forward or a shooting guard this summer who can put the ball on the floor and create plays for others and he also was talking specifically about Tuesday's loss -- which, at 27 in a row in April, set an NBA record for most consecutive losses in a single month.

The Wolves battled the Grizzlies with all the effort and energy they lacked in getting clobbered at Indiana on Monday night, only to surrender to Memphis in a closing 9-2 flurry that won the game in the final four minutes because, well, J.J. Barea can't do everything.

The team's last remaining capable ballhandler, Barea had 28 points, eight assists and five rebounds, coming up one point shy of his career high. But without help for him, the Wolves once again were susceptible down the stretch, committing three fouls and missing two three-pointers in the final 3:50 after one crucial official's call went the Grizzlies' way.

Wolves forward Anthony Tolliver was called for an offensive foul -- pushing a defender with his forearm, an official ruled -- on what otherwise would have been a potential three-point play that could have put the home team ahead 84-80 with fewer than four minutes remaining.

Until then, the Wolves had held Memphis without a field goal for six minutes. After that, the Grizzlies scored 11 of the game's final 14 points.

"We did everything we could tonight," Barea said. "We played hard. We did everything right. We just had bad luck with that one play. That one play changed everything, and I've got a feeling you guys know what play I'm talking about. It changed everything. But I'm proud. I'm proud the way we fought tonight."

They fought nearly as hard as a Memphis team that gave up 34 second-quarter points and then only 28 points total after halftime, that scored only 14 points itself in the fourth quarter and still found a way to win by limiting the Wolves to fewer than 90 points for the seventh time in that eight-game winning streak against them.

"We fought, we scratched, we clawed, we grinded it out," Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins said. "We just gutted it out. That's the best thing to say."


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