MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Kevin Love had just finished calling out two teammates for sulking on the bench while the Minnesota Timberwolves let an important game slip away to the Phoenix Suns, and Nikola Pekovic acknowledged what had become readily apparent: a team that was supposed to make the playoffs for the first time since 2004 had just waded into a danger zone.
"It's a tough point for us," Pekovic said after the Wolves gave away a nine-point lead in the final 4 minutes to lose 104-103 on Wednesday night. "We have to stay together. We don't want to just let it go. We just need to turnaround to the next game and try to prepare as best for the next game and try to win the next game. That's all we can do now."
The Timberwolves met Thursday to review film of the loss and clear the air after Love delivered a sharp rebuke to J.J. Barea and Dante Cunningham for their poor body language in the fourth quarter. An originally scheduled practice was canceled, perhaps to give everyone a chance to catch their breath, collect their thoughts and avoid the media attention that was sure to engulf them after emotions ran high the night before.
The Wolves lost a precious home game to a team that is two spots ahead of them in the Western Conference playoff race, was missing perhaps its best player in guard Eric Bledsoe and was playing on the second night of a back-to-back. In the end, the Wolves (17-18) failed to climb over the .500 mark for the eighth straight time and fell to a staggering 0-10 in games decided by four points or less.
"We can't have any more of these," said Love, who had 15 points on 4-for-20 shooting and 12 rebounds. "These are terrible. Dallas loses tonight and we beat (the Suns), we're looking like we're in good position if we win a few more here, string a few together in a row. We've had very tough ones. Last three we've lost have been very tough, the last four, really. It's just time."
Love has been critical of the second unit's inconsistency before, but he was more direct than he has ever been in his young career after watching Barea and Cunningham sulk Wednesday. Love didn't name them, but the evidence was palpable.
"We've just all got to be on the same page 1-15," Love said. "It's tough when you see that."
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