Once again, Wolves get burned late

  • Article by: JERRY ZGODA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 9, 2014 - 1:42 PM

This time it was against the Suns, who finished the game with a 9-1 run.

 

Whether it’s a matter of circumstance or coincidence now matters not. What matters after the Timberwolves’ 104-103 loss Wednesday night to a surprising Phoenix team they’re chasing for one of the Western Conference final playoff spots is they still can’t get themselves into winner’s territory or win a close game.

The Suns outscored them 9-1 in the final 2:38 and put further distance in the NBA standings between an overachieving, disciplined, determined bunch that many prognosticators had picked to finish last or thereabouts in the West and a Wolves team that missed yet another chance to get over .500.

The Wolves now are 0-10 in games decided by four or fewer points this season, and Wednesday’s game joined a growing list of games — losses to the Los Angeles Clippers, Dallas and Oklahoma City just in recent weeks, to name three — they let get away.

If the season ended Wednesday night, the Suns and Dallas would own the West’s final playoff spots. Phoenix now leads the Wolves by four games.

“We can’t have any more of these,” Wolves star Kevin Love said. “These are terrible. … We’ve had very tough ones. The last three we have lost have been really tough, the last four really. It’s just time.”

After the Wolves lost to Dallas nine days earlier, Love called out the team’s bench for contributing just five points that night. On Wednesday, he singled out two unnamed teammates — believed to be J.J. Barea and Dante Cunningham — for sitting at the end of bench and not getting up during timeouts down the stretch with the game on the line.

“We all need to be in this together,” Love said. “We’re supposed to be a team.”

The Wolves didn’t score a field goal for the last 4:31. Not after Corey Brewer’s corner three gave them a 97-88 lead. Not with all of the team’s five starters on the floor. And not after Suns second-year center Miles Plumlee fouled out with 2:44 after he harassed Nikola Pekovic into a 6-for-16 shooting night but couldn’t keep him from scoring nine fourth-quarter points.

Still, the Wolves couldn’t get the ball to Pekovic or Love down the stretch enough when they needed to do so.

“We didn’t make plays,” Wolves coach Rick Adelman said. “I don’t know what you want me to tell you.”

The Suns did, coming back in the final three minutes scoring on a putback basket, at the free-throw line and ultimately on former Timberwolves guard Gerald Green’s 18-foot jump shot with 3.9 seconds left that proved to be the winner. They did so while playing without injured star guard Eric Bledsoe beside fellow point guard Goran Dragic, who delivered a 26-point, nine-assist performance.

Kevin Martin’s short would-be winning shot in the final second missed on a night when he scored 16 of his 20 points in the first half and the Wolves’ tandem of “lumberjacks,” as Philadelphia coach Brett Brown called Love and Pekovic the other night, combined for 10-for-36 shooting.

Before the game, Love said “it’s no mental block or curse or anything” and called it “kind of circumstance.” Point guard Ricky Rubio called it something else.

“I think it’s just coincidence,” Rubio said.

Losing that many close games surely isn’t.

The Wolves turned the ball over three times in the final four minutes, two of them by Rubio. Included was one when Rubio got trapped after driving underneath the basket and threw out desperately with 25 seconds left.

The Suns turned that possession into Green’s winning shot from deep in the right corner.

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Chicago 17 FINAL
Detroit 34
Philadelphia 33 FINAL
Dallas 10
Seattle 19 FINAL
San Francisco 3
Cleveland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
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Washington 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Tennessee 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
NY Giants 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Cincinnati 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
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St. Louis
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Pittsburgh
Carolina 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Arizona 11/30/14 3:05 PM
Atlanta
New England 11/30/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Denver 11/30/14 7:30 PM
Kansas City
Miami 12/1/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
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Nashville 1
ULM 54 FINAL
Robert Morris 71
Santa Clara 57 FINAL
Tennessee 64
Oklahoma 59 FINAL
Butler 46
Austin Peay 79 FINAL
Brown 58
Princeton 56 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 62
Coastal Carolina 67 FINAL
Chattanooga 78
Kansas 76 FINAL
Rhode Island 60
Wisconsin 68 FINAL
Georgetown 65
FIU 53 FINAL
USC Upstate 68
Long Island 54 FINAL
Stony Brook 73
San Diego 71 FINAL
Xavier 82
Illinois 88 FINAL
Indiana State 62
Cal State Fullerton 67 FINAL
Wright State 62
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Michigan State 77 FINAL
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UAB 47 FINAL
Florida 56
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San Jose St 56 FINAL
Washington 78
Washington St 43 FINAL
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LSU 23 FINAL
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(9) UCLA
(21) Colorado State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
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(24) Louisville
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(23) Clemson
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Iowa State
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(7) Ohio State
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Indiana
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Troy
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Colorado
Texas State 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
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Penn State
(22) Minnesota 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(14) Wisconsin
(5) Baylor 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Texas Tech
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(1) Florida State
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Maryland
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San Diego St
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BYU 11/29/14 3:30 PM
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Hartford 43 FINAL
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Ohio State 86
Idaho State 53 FINAL
San Diego State 68
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(22) Syracuse 69
Santa Clara 0 Cancelled
Texas-El Paso 0
Florida State 68 FINAL
Washington 80
Wichita State 39 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 56
Wisconsin 44 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 67
Kansas State 0 Cancelled
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