Timberwolves fall to Warriors
MINNEAPOLIS — The painful lessons a young Timberwolves team apparently must learn do not include just blown late leads to distinguished opponents they could have beaten, such as San Antonio and Oklahoma City.
On Saturday night, it was a 104-94 loss at Target Center to a Golden State team they probably should have beaten.
Forty-eight hours after they led the NBA's hottest team all night before losing to the Spurs in the final minute of overtime, the Wolves clobbered the Warriors on the backboards all night and still never really challenged an opponent that now is 7-2 when David Lee plays and 1-7 when he doesn't.
Lee returned Saturday after missing more than two weeks because of a dangerous elbow infection that required two surgeries to save his triceps muscle, his forearm and perhaps his career.
He played 42 minutes and provided inspiration, a commodity the Wolves clearly lacked.
Afterward, Wolves coach Kurt Rambis expressed his disappointment with his team's effort.
"That is the first time all season where I don't think our guys were there," said Rambis, whose team started the season 1-7 and now is 4-13. "I really liked the way we played in the San Antonio game, but this game, a couple things went wrong and they would hang their head. You could see that blank look on their face. They lost their fight for a majority of the game."
They allowed Warriors forward Dorrell Wright to make a franchise-record nine three-pointers, three shy of the NBA record for a single game, one short of the most ever made against a Timberwolves team.
Wright made five of those in the third quarter alone, when the Warriors turned the game with a 36-17 quarter after the Wolves had led by three points at halftime.
Somebody asked Rambis if he thought his team's lack of "energy" and "focus" was attributed to a hangover from Friday's game, when the Wolves led the Spurs by 21 points in the second half and still lost.
He answered by reminding reporters he always tells them when asked about players' injuries that he lacks a medical degree.
"Nor do I have a doctorate in psychology," he said. "Those things escape me."
The Wolves outworked the Warriors on the board, but they were outperformed almost everywhere else by an opponent whose starting backcourt of Monta Ellis and Steph Curry outscored the Wolves' starting backcourt 46-21 and whose combined 17 assists were just two shy of the Wolves' team total.
The Warriors moved the ball all night, creating Wright's team-record night that produced three-pointer after three-pointer, after three-pointer.
"Once a guy proves to me that he has made two three-pointers in a row, he doesn't get the next one," Rambis said. "You run him off the spot and make him do something other than hit a stationary shot. We didn't do that."
The Wolves trailed by as many as 18 points early in the fourth quarter, and never got closer than eight points again. That was at 92-84 with seven minutes remaining.
Lee answered with a layup on a night when his 42 minutes played didn't surprise, not after Golden State coach Keith Smart, when asked how much Lee might play, reminded reporters before the game that emergency medical technicians were standing by.
"We felt like this is a game we could get," Wolves forward Corey Brewer said. "We're a young team. We got to bring it every night. You can't just bring it against guys like San Antonio. You have to bring it against every team."