|Terrible T-wolves: Lopsided loss leaves skid at 11|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 18 December 2008 12:25|
The franchise player is long gone, the coach has changed three times and the current group of young players still hasn't shown much promise.
Well, near the end of Wednesday's game against Cleveland, the few thousand fans remaining at Target Center finally found a reason to stand up, clap and cheer.
For LeBron James.
Customer apathy is a dangerous development in the unforgiving, multimillion-dollar world of pro sports. An ovation for a player on the visiting team, even of James' caliber, is a sign of just that.
The Timberwolves, after falling to the Cavaliers 93-70 and running their losing streak to 11 games, aren't only having trouble winning. Lately they're not even competitive, leaving fans little reason to care right now in this post-Kevin Garnett funk.
to go out there and ... keep believing and keep fighting.''
Foye insisted the team's spirit was still up, though coach Kevin McHale acknowledged the players looked ``down in the dumps'' for the first part of Thursday's practice. Because of travel schedules and two sets of back-to-back games, this was their first full workout since McHale came down from the front office on Dec. 8 and replaced Randy Wittman on the bench.
McHale was eager for the extra time to spend on his offensive system. He wants the Wolves to run the fast break more and play a faster pace, but first they have to figure out what they're doing in the half court. The ball movement has been next to nonexistent, with too much reliance on Al Jefferson and not enough activity outside the lane to create other shots and bail Jefferson out of those ubiquitous double teams.
Although when a team is struggling, it's struggling. Strategy hardly matters.
The Wolves went 1-for-14 from 3-point range on Wednesday, and they had their fair share of open looks at the basket even against a quality defensive team like the Cavs.
``They're making 'em in practice,'' McHale lamented. He added: ``They've just got to keep shooting 'em. They're good shots. They're good shooters taking good shots, and eventually you've got to believe they're going to go in.''
excited about adding a proven perimeter shooter to help - with Foye and reserve Rashad McCants - take the pressure off Jefferson in the paint.
Miller has been rather quiet, though. Foye is still inconsistent: He has 21 total points over his last three games, after averaging 19.5 points during the first eight games of the losing streak. McCants, who went 0-for-8 from the floor on Wednesday, is one of the NBA's most enigmatic players.
``We've got to make shots. No question,'' Miller said, matter of factly. ``We've just got to do a better job of moving the ball and getting open 3s. That'll help a lot. I think right now we've had some open ones we haven't made. That's a reflection of things. Just got to make shots. There's no secret behind it, really.''
Perhaps focusing on mid-range jumpers is a smart place to start. Miller went 7-for-7 against Cleveland inside the arc, but 0-for-5 from 3-point range.
``You can't be upset about it and sad,'' Foye said. ``You can get frustrated with it, but at the same time you've got to keep working at it.''
The Wolves (4-21) are now 0-6 under McHale, with Houston (16-9) set to visit Saturday. After losing to Utah by three points in McHale's first game as coach, they've lost by 11 to Denver, 12 to San Antonio, 12 to the Lakers, and 15 to Sacramento. The last two games before Wittman was fired were defeats of 23 points (Clippers) and 29 points (New Jersey).
The franchise record is 16 straight losses in 1992, and a streak of the same length in 1994 bridged two seasons. With road games against San Antonio and New York sandwiched around Christmas followed by home games against Orlando and Memphis before a trip to Dallas, it's certainly possible the Wolves will still be stuck in this skid when the new year arrives. Only the Grizzlies and Knicks have losing records among their next six opponents.
``The guys have been pretty good,'' McHale said. ``Of course you get down in games when you're missing shots. There's a frustration level that comes in, but that's human nature. I just think we need to get ourselves in some situations where we're making some shots feeling a little bit better about ourselves. Get some wins, and things change quick.''