The Timberwolves welcomed newly signed Josh Howard on Friday night but played on again without their six injured players in a 106-98 loss to Golden State at Target Center.
And it's starting to show.
The Wolves lost their second consecutive game at home and fell to 5-4 after beginning the season with the franchise's best start since in a decade.
On Wednesday, they trailed Charlotte by 14 points in the final 4 minutes, 22 seconds and fought all the way back to tie before Kemba Walker's winning shot in the final second.
On Friday, they led by 12 midway through the second quarter, only to trail by three at halftime and by 14 with less than eight minutes left.
But this time they could get no closer than three points. The Warriors exploited the absence of Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Love down low by outrebounding the Wolves 50-34 and clobbering them 58-22 in scoring points in the paint.
"You're playing shorthanded," Wolves coach Rick Adelman said. "We just didn't do enough."
The Wolves now have four days off before they play host to Denver on Wednesday.
They have time to integrate Howard into their schemes, time presumably for Pekovic (sprained ankle), Brandon Roy (knee) and J.J. Barea (sprained foot) to heal enough to face the Nuggets.
"I would say we're running out of gas a little bit," said forward Andrei Kirilenko, one of two starters still healthy. "Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to get excuses. I think it's a good time right now, a good time to get our legs back."
Adelman reconfigured his rotation and combinations to introduce Howard into the mix and to find some combination of players that could stop Golden State guards Steph Curry and Jarrett Jack and their dribble-drive penetration into the free-throw lane that created opportunities for Davie Lee, Carl Landry and Harrison Barnes to score at will inside.
He played Howard 14 minutes and even asked him unexpectedly to play shooting guard some in the second half in a small lineup.
The small lineup provided the offensive energy for a 13-2 run midway through the fourth quarter that got them back in the game. It also ultimately left them susceptible on the backboards and in the paint, where Lee's turnaround, bank shot repelled the Wolves for good after they had pulled within 94-91 in the final three minutes.
The Warriors hung on even after Curry fouled out with 2:49 left following a 17-point, six-assist night.
The Wolves capitulated for the second time in three nights despite Williams' 23-point game, in which he rediscovered his outside shot, and Alexey Shved's assertive 32-minute, 22-point, seven-assist night off the bench.
"I don't want to make excuses when we only have eight or nine guys, but it does get tough after a while," Williams said. "We just couldn't stop them in the paint. Their guards kept getting in there, and they have good post players. They're just tough to stop. ... Pek is arguably the strongest guy in the league, our paint stopper. We really missed him out there tonight."
Howard scored four points in six second-quarter minutes, making two of three shots. He made just one of seven in 10 second-half minutes, when his legs failed him some and Adelman said he tried to do too much.
"I surprised myself," Howard said. "I knocked down some shots, but I've got to get my legs under me still. I just knew I was going to come in and play. To get me in the shooting-guard spot was pretty cool. I kinda forgot how they felt. However they work me in, I'm happy to do it."