Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman sounded like a man more than upset with the effort his team put forth in the moments following Wednesday's home loss to the Denver Nuggets.
Two days later, after a lengthy film session and a solid practice, Adelman had calmed down. At least a little. "We just went through some things to try to get back to the basics," Adelman said on Friday. "We showed 'em film, and went through it on the court. We'll see if it carries over."
It had better.
The schedule only gets more difficult for the Wolves, mired in their first three-game losing streak this season and losers in five of their past six games. Immediately after practice the team boarded a plane for Dallas. They will play at Dallas and at Oklahoma City on Saturday and Sunday, fly to Mexico City to play San Antonio, then come home to play Miami. The Spurs (13-2) and Thunder (10-3) are first and third in the Western Conference, respectively, and the Mavericks (10-6) are sixth. Miami (12-3) is second in the East.
For the Wolves to stop their recent streak, their effort and defense will have to improve. And that's why defense was the main course at Friday's practice.
"Our defense was terrible [Wednesday]," point guard Ricky Rubio said. "We have to play harder. I mean, we know we're not good defenders one-on-one. But we can be a good defense as a team. We showed that in our first few games. … We have to help each other out. We're not talking."
It remains to be seen whether one good practice can get the Wolves back to playing good team defense. But veteran Kevin Martin said nobody was about to panic.
"This is one of those times in a year that teams go through," he said. "We worked on a lot of defensive stuff today, mixed in with a little offense. Defense is our weakness right now. So we have to turn it around here."
Saturday's game will be the 18th, the most the Wolves have ever played by the end of November. After playing at Oklahoma City on Sunday the schedule will relax, at least in terms of games played, with just four games in the ensuing 11 days.
An excused absence
Newly acquired defensive specialist Luc Mbah a Moute was excused from practice Friday so he could go back to Sacramento to finish his move back to the Twin Cities. He will join the team in Dallas.
The problem is he missed the team's first real practice in more than a week, which will make it difficult to work him into the rotation in the short term.
"I don't know how we'll throw him into the game," Adelman said. "I was hoping he'd be here today, but it didn't happen. But he'll probably get an opportunity, though. We'll have to walk him through some things at the shootaround [Saturday]."
•Adelman said he thought Rubio's seven turnovers Wednesday — his most this season and one off his career high — were the result of trying to do too much. "He was trying to make things happen," Adelman said. "That's the way he plays. But he's been playing pretty well lately. He just had a couple tough stretches in that game."