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Timberwolves lose to Bucks, 98-95


This news story was published on December 27, 2011.
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By Jerry Zgoda, Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

MILWAUKEE — Well, that perfect preseason record against the Milwaukee Bucks didn’t mean much now, did it?

The Minnesota Timberwolves won both meetings in that truncated two-week NBA preseason, then went to Milwaukee without head coach Rick Adelman on Tuesday for the regular season’s second game and lost 98-95.

On Monday, the Wolves took the mighty Oklahoma City Thunder down to the final three seconds before losing their season opener before a standing-room only crowd at Minneapolis’ Target Center.

On Tuesday, with Adelman away from the team to attend a family funeral, the Wolves surrendered 60 first-half points to a Bucks team that had lost in Charlotte, N.C., the night before, and they trailed by as many as 20 points in the second half before pulling within a basket in the final two minutes.

Starting center Darko Milicic fouled out with nine minutes left in the game after collecting his sixth foul trying to defend Bucks center Andrew Bogut.

The wise guys on Twitter wondered during much of that second half if Kurt Rambis wasn’t subbing as the team’s acting head coach instead of Adelman’s top assistant, Terry Porter.

Six days earlier, the Wolves trailed by 11 points late in the game at Bradley Center and then scored the final 12 points to somehow, someway win the game.

The Wolves did the near-impossible against the Thunder the night before: Their three point guards played a combined 70 minutes and teamed for 12 assists and not a single turnover for a team that led the NBA in that category last season.

They committed just 12 all night on Monday, five below last season’s average.

On Tuesday, the Wolves had 13 turnovers by halftime, 22 before the third quarter was over and 25 by midway through the fourth quarter.

Maybe it was a good thing —strictly from a basketball perspective, that is — that Adelman was far away from this one.

Turnovers — too many of them — had been his main talking point since training camp opened on Dec. 9.

Less than a week into camp, he said, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a group that’s as good at turning the ball over as this one.”

And the guy who on the day camp opened called the Wolves’ defense last season “horrendous” was just getting started.

“Everybody shared the wealth today,” he said after one training-camp practice. “I just told them I petitioned the league to give us a point for every turnover, and they denied it. So we’re going to have to play by the rules.”

If Adelman had been successful rewriting the rules, the Wolves would have won easily.

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