Small crowd, quiet arena, and a game to match. There wasn't much energy at Target Center on Friday, least of all by those wearing Wolves uniforms.
That's not unexpected, of course. This homestand -- Rockets, Mavericks, Nuggets and Spurs -- always looked like a killer, and dropping all four games by a combined 53 points is no big surprise. What was notable, though, was how uninterested each of the visitors appeared to be, and how little difference it made. The Spurs, playing without Tony Parker, hardly seemed like the title contender they had hoped to be this season, but once they opened the second half with a 12-2 run, all hope for the home team disappeared.
Especially because nobody was guarding the basket. San Antonio scored 60 points in the paint, and Tim Duncan had only 15. OK, the Wolves didn't have Ryan Hollins or Kevin Love in uniform, but that's no excuse for a revolving door under the basket. That the Spurs made only 49 percent of their shots is the night's biggest mystery.
Funny, the Wolves had just gotten a refresher course on defense.
"We watched tape the other day, just showed them some of the abysmal things they did defensively," Rambis said. "Some of it is just completely inexcusable."
And it's just another reminder that knowing in advance that a season won't be a good one doesn't make it any easier to endure.
A couple more things as the Wolves leave town for four road games:
-- With such a non-competitive game, I wrote about the Wolves' experience this week with Idan Ravin, personal trainer to some of the NBA's best players. David Kahn invited Ravin to spend a few days connecting with some of the players, in hopes that a few of them will be inspired to give his intense workouts a try this summer.
Ravin spoke to Henry Abbott of espn.com about the Wolves on Thursday, and sounded extremely impressed with some of the players he met, particularly Al Jefferson ("He's a 20 and 10 guy pretty much just using jump hooks," Ravin told Abbott. "The guy's going to be a killer.") and Darko Milicic.
Jefferson returned the enthusiasm, even though it meant exerting himself to an unusual degree this late in the season, and plans to work with Ravin this summer. That's an arrangement that Kahn endorses, because the team intends to track each of its players' progress as closely as possible this summer. He also likes the idea of his players possibly working out with other Ravin clients like Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul.
I got the feeling that Rambis wasn't entirely sold on having someone else directing his players (before and after the normal practices) this week, and you can't blame him for wanting to make sure the Wolves are speaking with one voice. Kahn emphasized three different times how everything that Ravin does with the Wolves will be integrated with Rambis' player-development blueprint for the team. And when I asked the coach whether Kahn invited Ravin "with your support," Rambis paused before saying, "with my willingness to watch. ... But any activity that's going to bring improvement, I'm all in favor."
-- Rambis had an interesting take on the suggestion that a high seed in the Western Conference will be unhappy to draw the Spurs as a first-round opponent rather than an inexperienced also-ran. Basically, he said, winners don't duck a challenge. "If you're going to win a championship, you're going to win because you've earned it. You want to play the best at their best," Rambis said. "Why would you want to play a bunch of injury-riddled or inferior teams? That sucks a huge part of the enjoyment out of it." His own playing experience was a good example, he said -- the Lakers loved playing the Celtics, and would have been disappointed to face a lesser opponent.
-- Tough night for several of the Wolves, particularly Jonny Flynn. The rookie took eight shots and scored only six points, and his plus/minus was a minus-26; Ramon Sessions, meanwhile, was a plus-eight backing him up. Jefferson was minus-27 after going 5-for-15 from the floor, and Ryan Gomes went 2-for-9 with three turnovers.
-- PHIL MILLER