MILWAUKEE – While they continue to wait for Ricky Rubio’s return as well as their expanded losing streak to end, the Timberwolves exhausted every point-guard option they could conjure during Friday’s 98-84 loss at Milwaukee.
With veteran starter Mo Williams out injured, Wolves coach Flip Saunders called upon Troy Daniels, Andrew Wiggins, even forward Robbie Hummel in relief of rookie starter Zach LaVine on a night when the team lost its 14th consecutive game and its 20th in the last 21.
“Just don’t have enough right now,” Saunders said afterward. “You can try to sugarcoat it, but we just don’t have enough.”
It says something about the franchise’s current state that the Wolves missed not only Rubio and Williams on Friday. They also missed traded-away Corey Brewer, who became their point guard in a pinch when Williams was sidelined by a bad back in December.
It says something that current state that their most efficient point guard was Hummel, a forward who last played point guard in high school in Valparaiso, Ind.
He played the entire fourth quarter while LaVine and starting center Gorgui Dieng sat it out and primarily organized his team’s offense enough to knock a 20-point, fourth-quarter deficit down to just 10 thanks to a 12-2 run over 3½ minutes midway through the fourth quarter. Forward Shabazz Muhammad also didn’t play in the fourth quarter because of what he called a groin injury sustained in the second quarter and what the team officially termed lower abdominal soreness.
“As I told our guys, our last group we had in there probably moved the ball as well as anybody, with Robbie Hummel as point guard,” Saunders said. “I mean, go figure.”
It was certainly no perfect-world solution, but then again, this is far from a perfect season unless you consider the Wolves’ current 0-14 stretch perfect in some strange sort of way.
“It’s something where if it’s an emergency, I can do it,” Hummel said. “It’s certainly not something we want to do on a nightly basis. That’s the most point guard I’ve played since high school, but it wasn’t too foreign. You’re playing basketball. I’ve been doing that for a long time.”
When told his team used every reasonable point-guard option available, Hummel said: “Without Mo and Ricky you kind of have to do that. It’s a tough situation, but you have to make the best of it.”
Williams didn’t play Friday because of a sprained ankle. The Wolves led 22-19 after LaVine played the entire first quarter, but Saunders called upon Daniels for help after the Bucks amped their defense and outscored the Wolves 17-7 in the second quarter’s opening five minutes.
LaVine played 27 minutes, had six points and as many turnovers (four) as assists.
“He has some positives and then he has some negatives, that is the difficult part of that position,” Saunders said. “What’s frustrating is the things he struggles with are the same things.”
Daniels said he hadn’t played point guard since AAU ball, at least four years ago.
“I had a couple flashbacks,” said Daniels, who went 1-for-8 from the field with three turnovers and no assists. “It was different. Coming here, I knew I’d have to do some things I was uncomfortable with at the time, but whatever Coach told me to do that’s what I did. If he needed me to play center or point, I just did it.”
Wiggins scored 20 points for the sixth consecutive game. That breaks the team’s rookie record held by Christian Laettner and assistant coach Sam Mitchell.
“Good for me, keeps my confidence up high,” Wiggins said, “but I’d trade those 20s for a win any day.”