Just four games into a preseason that so far is even, Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman delivered a scolding after Saturday’s 104-97 loss to a Raptors team they had beaten in Toronto three days earlier.
And he presented his players with some soul-searching concepts after Saturday’s loss.
“They’ve got to figure out what they want to do as a team,” Adelman said. “I just told them, ‘What kind of season do you want?’ That’s really up to us to make what we want. They’ve got to figure out what they want to do as a team.”
He has not been impressed with a 2-2 preseason start forged in just six days.
Upset all week with a starting unit that has started games meekly, Adelman included everybody in Saturday’s postgame, locker-room scolding, even though the starters began the night by falling behind 11-4 early before all five again sat for the entire fourth quarter.
He criticized their lack of concentration and preparedness and lamented a second consecutive game when his team had as many turnovers as assists. On Saturday, it was an even 16 in each category, a sure sign his players are not moving and sharing the ball.
“I don’t understand,” he said. “Like I told them afterward, we’ve played two games here at home and we’re acting like we’re just going through the motions. We aren’t the San Antonio Spurs and we aren’t Miami. We act like we have plenty of time.”
In fact, the Wolves have just three preseason games left before their Oct. 30 season opener. They do, however, now have more than a week before they play again.
“Maybe it’ll help us,” Adelman said about the upcoming break. “Maybe it’ll wake us up.”
The Wolves have played the last three of these first four games without starting shooting guard Kevin Martin, who again didn’t play Saturday because of a sore Achilles tendon. Alexey Shved started in his place and Adelman took good looks in both halves at a small backcourt that included starter Ricky Rubio and reserve J.J. Barea.
The rest: Rubio and Barea combined to shoot 2-for-17. Add Shved’s 0-for-4 night and the three made two of 21 shots.
“Awful, our guards went 3-for-whatever it was,” Adelman said, adding training-camp invitee Othyus Jeffers’ 1-for-1 night. “They’ve got to come in and they’ve got to make plays. It’s not just the guards. The shooting problems carry right to the same thing: What’s your mental attitude? How are you approaching the game? Are you really doing this thing all out or are you going through the motions?
“I know it’s the exhibition season, but we’re trying to get better and we really can’t get better if we don’t go out with better effort than we’ve shown.”
Martin’s return — presumably when the Wolves play Boston in Montreal on Oct. 20 — will help that backcourt shooting percentage, right?
“It better,” Adelman said. “Well, it’s got to. If he makes one, it’s a step up.”
Adelman used Saturday’s game — the fourth of seven in this preseason — to establish a 10-man rotation after playing 12 or 13 players in the first three games.
That rotation included a second unit of Derrick Williams, Ronny Turiaf, Barea, Dante Cunningham and Jeffers for the first three quarters. Rookie Shabazz Muhammad and camp invitee A.J. Price played in the fourth quarter after the starters sat down for the night.
• NBA referees met with Wolves players and coaches before Wednesday’s game in Toronto to discuss this season’s officiating points of emphasis, which, among others, include traveling, illegal screens and delay-of-game penalties following made baskets. On Saturday, the Raptors got three technical fouls after a warning for catching the ball after they made a basket.
• Raptors coach Dwane Casey on lean Wolves forward Kevin Love, who offensively played his way toward the regular season with a 28-point, 11-rebound night in 28 minutes: “He looks great. He looks like a new person.”
• Adelman criticized his team for losing its first two games at Target Center. “We have to win at home,” said starting forward Corey Brewer, signed away from Denver last summer. “I played on a team that last year went 38-3 at home, got the third [playoff] seed. I told the guys, you have to win at home.”