Include Saturday’s epic collapse by a Timberwolves team that already knows plenty about such things, and the Wolves have lost nine games already this season in which they’ve built double-digit leads.

The road to winning can be long and exasperating, as the Wolves learned when they lost a late 12-point lead and the game to streaking Houston on Saturday.

How do they stay encouraged and keep the faith?

“It’s all about improvement,” Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau said before Monday’s victory over Phoenix. “Each and every day, do the right things. The big thing for me is, I’m disappointed in losing, but I’m not disappointed in our team. I see the way they’re working. I see the improvement. We’re trying to build habits.”

He has seen his Wolves build a 17-point lead against a Houston team that had won nine consecutive games and another 17-pointer at Memphis as well, among the many.

“Just knowing we’re right there,” Wolves forward Andrew Wiggins said. “It’s not like we’re getting blown out or getting killed by other teams. We’re playing good games. We’re just not finishing.”

Failing to finish games, though, is problematic.

“Whether you win or lose, don’t try to get too high or too low,” Thibodeau said. “You come in the next day and see what transpired and try to understand it and learn from it and move forward. If you win the game, that doesn’t mean you’re going to win the next one or the one after that. When you start feeling good about yourself, you get knocked down.

“You want to develop a consistent approach in how you prepare. That’s critical. ”

Back together

Former University of Kentucky teammates Towns and Devin Booker reunited for Monday’s game. Booker, a shooting guard, remembered three-point shooting contests after practice during a lone season when Wildcats coach John Calipari pretty much refused to let Towns shoot three-pointers during games.

“It was a mix, I give him a couple games,” Booker said when asked who won. “That’s when I figured out he can actually shoot for a 7-footer. Like I always say, he’s going to be a special player in this league.”

League to expand All-star electorate

NBA players and media members will join fans in choosing All-Star Game starters this season for the first time. Fans will count for 50 percent of the vote, NBA players and the media for 25 percent each. Players can vote for themselves or for teammates.

Voting begins at 10 a.m. Sunday, before the NBA’s five Christmas games. Fans can vote through, the NBA App, Twitter, Facebook and Google Search.


• Wolves guard Zach LaVine led the NBA in minutes played with a 37.9-minute average entering Monday’s game.