SAN ANTONIO – The Timberwolves have tried to push through a .500 record into winner’s territory nine times now since the day before Thanksgiving.
Nine times, they have failed.
The latest attempt was Sunday’s 104-96 loss at San Antonio to which Wolves coach Rick Adelman seemed to add an asterisk.
“We’re also playing the best in the West on the road,” he said before the game.
The three previous times, the Wolves lost to Dallas, Oklahoma City and Phoenix in games they believed they should have won. This time, they got thumped.
Adelman is at a loss to explain why the Wolves can’t push past even, other than to suggest they are what they are right now: a .500 team that dipped back below that mark Sunday to 18-19.
“I have no answer for that question,” he said. “Every time we’ve been there, we’ve lost a close game. That’s just the way the season has gone. I’m just trying to win a game here. If you start dwelling on that … there’s a reason we’re .500: We win a game, we lose a game. That’s the way it is.”
Asked if a loss in San Antonio deserves to be considered with all those other chances, Wolves star Kevin Love said: “It all counts. We had a great opportunity tonight. We played them well through the half, and then they became the San Antonio Spurs.”
Spurs sixth man Manu Ginobili missed his second consecutive game because of tightness in his left hamstring.
You might remember that he and Tony Parker combined to score 28 fourth-quarter points in San Antonio’s comeback victory over the Wolves last month.
“Him and Parker both hurt us last time, big time in the fourth quarter,” Adelman said. “But the way they play their system, they just plug other people in and keep going.”
Veteran forward Matt Bonner came off the bench and contributed 14 points — including four three-pointers on four attempts.
Wolves rookie Shabazz Muhammad is headed back to the team after finishing his four-game stay with the team’s D-League Iowa affiliate on Sunday with a 26-point, nine-rebound game in a victory at Des Moines. He averaged 24.5 points in those four games.
“It’s good experience,” Adelman said. “He’s doing a good job. He’s aggressive. He’s getting a chance to play and getting some confidence.”
Expect both Muhammad and fellow rookie Gorgui Dieng to play for Iowa at times the rest of the season as the NBA schedule allows.
• Wolves reserve forward Luc Mbah a Moute was available for the second consecutive game after missing three games because of a groin injury, but he didn’t play until the game’s final four minutes, along with Dieng and A.J. Price. He played four minutes Friday against Charlotte.
• Spurs starting center Tiago Splitter missed his third consecutive game because of a sprained shoulder.
• Spurs starting shooting guard Danny Green left the game in the second quarter because of a sprained index finger and did not return.
• Player development coach Bobby Jackson is on crutches after tearing a quadriceps muscle during a pickup game at Target Center’s basement health club.