Wolves have shown positives, but a win streak is a must

  • Article by: JERRY ZGODA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 5, 2013 - 2:15 AM

Timberwolves head coach Rick Adelman

Photo: Jack Dempsey, Associated Press

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Some Timberwolves fans lost all playoff hope after their team suffered a season-worst, 22-point loss Wednesday at Utah.

Others concluded after Thursday's comeback victory at Denver without injured Kevin Love that their team plays better without its best player.

Before you careen between either extreme, remember this:

The Wolves are 15-14 and hanging onto the Western Conference's eighth and final playoff spot by a percentage point, and they've done it with Love a shadow of his former All-Star self and without, for all practical purposes, Ricky Rubio.

Coach Rick Adelman was asked if his team's record so far is encouraging, given he has gotten relatively little from his two young stars.

"I feel like that, but I still think you're really teetering on disaster," Adelman said. "We have a tough month coming up, a lot of road games, four-game trip. We have to continue to win. You hope those guys are going to be able to step in, but the other guys have to do their part, too. That's what got us to where we are now.

"We've been able to tread water a little bit. But we have to start winning some games and get on some type of winning streak."

The Wolves follow home games Saturday against Portland and Tuesday against Atlanta with that four-game trip that takes them to Oklahoma City, New Orleans, San Antonio and Dallas. Then they come home to play the thriving Los Angeles Clippers and much-improved Houston.

Adelman has watched a team such as Golden State come from nowhere to a 22-10 record this season.

"You can't have a bad two, three weeks. Golden State has proven it," Adelman said. "They've been playing very well. But there are other teams, Houston, playing well. You can't get too buried this early. That's what is important for us: To get everybody back and figure out how we're going to sustain it. We had one minor winning streak (a four-gamer in December, a three-gamer in November). You have to have a pretty good winning streak or win eight of 10 to get there."

Questionable health

The Wolves on Friday listed both Love and Rubio as questionable for Saturday's game against Portland.

The Wolves did not practice Friday after back-to-back road games on Wednesday and Thursday.

Rubio stayed in Minnesota during the two-game trip hoping that his stiff back would improve enough by Saturday to play. He has missed the past three games.

Love left Thursday's game late in the third quarter and headed to the locker room because of a sprained finger on that troublesome right shooting hand. Love returned to the bench in the fourth quarter and Adelman said he was told Love could have played, except he wouldn't have been able to shoot the ball.

What the people want?

The Timberwolves will proceed with their 7 p.m. start time against Portland on Saturday at Target Center even though the Vikings will kick off at Green Bay in an NFC wild-card playoff game at the very same time.

To accommodate interested Vikings fans, the Wolves will carry the game on arena-concourses televisions and the arena's game announcer will provide score updates throughout the night.

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