Late in his news conference following his team’s loss to the New York Knicks on Wednesday night, Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman was asked a pretty simple question. Sixty games into the season, with a 30-30 record, is this simply a team with .500 talent or is there something more there?
“I can’t answer that until the season is over,” Adelman said. “We’re a .500 team right now. … My feeling is we’re not that .500 team. But we have to go out and prove it.”
Thursday, after a film review that revealed pretty much what everyone expected — “We defended poorly,” Adelman said, “and we have to do a better job’’ — the team seemed eager to put Wednesday’s loss in the rearview mirror and concentrate on Friday’s game against the Detroit Pistons.
The players still believe this is a playoff-caliber team. “Of course,” center Nikola Pekovic said. “Yes.”
Said Corey Brewer: “Yes. We are better than our record.”
But that begs the question: How can a team with playoff dreams, this late in the season, come out so flat against a Knicks team that came to Target Center having lost seven games in a row?
“I think it happens to every team in the league,” Adelman said. “I mean, that’s why you can’t overreact to it. I mean, we play Detroit [next]. They’ve beaten Miami this year. Every team loses games. Unfortunately for us, we had [won] four out of five, we came in and we didn’t play well.”
Bad losses happen, and it’s never easy coming off an extended road trip. Still, the Wolves had won six of seven games.
They had a day of rest. They were at home against a struggling team. And yet they allowed the Knicks to get off to a strong start and find their rhythm. The result: The Wolves never led.
Thursday, after the film session, the Wolves worked hard on their pick-and-roll defense. They vowed to learn from Wednesday’s loss.
“We have to do it [Friday],” Brewer said.
“The Pistons are like the Knicks. They have good players who can get hot. We have to come out from the get-go. We can’t have a start like we had [Wednesday.]”
The playoffs remain a possibility, though a distant one. Entering Thursday’s games, the Wolves were 10th in the Western Conference, five games behind Dallas and Phoenix, who are in a virtual tie for seventh place.
Memphis is in ninth place, four games ahead of the Wolves.
“We are better than our record,” Brewer said. “We felt we had started playing well, but [Wednesday] night was a tough loss to take, especially coming off a good road trip. But hey, there are 22 games left. Anything can happen. We have to keep grinding, keep trying to win.”
And that’s why Adelman and his team were much more interested in looking ahead to Detroit than rehashing what happened against New York.
“All you can do is just go to the next game,” Adelman said. “Like I said, if we end up the season at .500, that’s who we are. I think we can be better than that. But we can’t allow too many games like that to happen. It’s something I was disappointed in, the team was disappointed in. But our job is to move on to the next game.”