Since before the season and carrying on into the start of it, Timberwolves President Gersson Rosas and coach Ryan Saunders have preached patience with the current roster, that there would be growing pains and players would need time to develop and find chemistry.
That sounds like an easy thing to do when they aren't playing games.
But it's harder to keep that patience and keep that long-term perspective in mind after nights like Wednesday's 118-107 loss to Memphis.
A winnable game and a double-digit lead slipped through the Wolves' hands in the fourth quarter. It's one thing to take the long-term view and say Wednesday is just another bump in the road, but when the Wolves are sitting with a 3-8 record that should be 4-7, it's going to take time for the sting to wear off.
"It's never easy losing games, especially when you feel you played well and did enough to win for a majority of the basketball game," Saunders said. "You talk of patience, but you also need to talk of urgency, too. We didn't have a sense of urgency."
Before practice Thursday, Saunders made a plea for the Wolves to get tougher in situations like the fourth quarter, when the Grizzlies made their push and the Wolves couldn't resist.
"Every team around the league has those same excuses, or similar excuses, if they want to use them," Saunders said. "At the end of the day, they don't check your pay stub, they don't check your birth certificate when you step out on the floor. Your toughness will always be checked, though. And I think sometimes with young groups, that is a learning experience. When things do get tough, what happens? Are you somebody that is able to fight through it?"
That's the same message an upset Karl-Anthony Towns delivered after Wednesday's loss.
"There has to be a killer mind-set with all of us," Towns said. "There can't be no 10-point lead [and we say] 'Oh the game's all right. We win.' No. This is the NBA. Ten point, 20-point leads ain't safe. You've got to keep growing them. Keep the momentum on our side."
Saunders decried the Wolves' lack of physicality Wednesday night on the defensive end. It didn't help that the Wolves lost track of players in transition defense, leading to easy baskets and open three-point shots for Memphis during its critical 14-0 spurt early in the fourth.
"We need to do a better job of sprinting back in our first three steps especially," Saunders said. "A lot of times we were playing catch-up. ... We have to be back because it's on the scouting report now. We gave up a big three to Grayson Allen in the fourth quarter because we were staring. He just leaked out behind us and we weren't in position to get a body on a body."
They'll have a chance for a do-over Friday as they take on the Grizzlies again at Target Center. Towns said the onus is on the players to be better. The coaches, he said, did their job Wednesday; the players didn't.
"We know who they are," Towns said. "It's not like we haven't seen them before, so we have to do better as players. We've got to do better from one to 14. We've got to do better as a whole entire team, and that doesn't fall on the coaches. They had us well prepared. We were great for three quarters. No one talked about the coaches until the fourth quarter came along. That's a player-driven loss. We didn't have the integrity nor the discipline to get it done."