Expectations for the Timberwolves this season were probably the highest they had been since Kevin Garnett, Sam Cassel and Latrell Sprewell were wreaking havoc in the Western Conference a decade ago, but the Wolves haven't been able to string together enough wins to be considered contenders.
Minnesota (23-24) lost to Memphis last Friday, but the Grizzlies were/are the hottest team in the NBA, so getting outmuscled without Nikola Pekovic didn't come as a big surprise. On Saturday, Minnesota wasted Kevin Love's monster game – 43 points, 19 rebounds – and lost on the road to the Atlanta Hawks.
The Wolves have a very busy week with four games in the next five days. They host the Lakers on Tuesday, play at Oklahoma City on Wednesday, at New Orleans on Friday before closing out the week at home against Portland on Saturday. It's a difficult stretch that could prove to be really good or really bad in next week's power rankings.
NBA.COM: No. 15 – The Wolves' journey to the land above .500 was short-lived, as they dropped two straight after finally breaking through. Their second most used lineup is the one that started the last three games with Nikola Pekovic out, but the offensive drop-off between the Pekovic lineup and the Ronny Turiaf lineup is almost 16 points per 100 possessions. Defense was the problem in Atlanta on Saturday, though.
PRO BASKETBALL TALK: No. 17 – They finally got over the .500 hump with a win over New Orleans, then promptly dropped their next two (Memphis and Atlanta). As much as I want to like Nikola Pekovic next to Kevin Love, this team needs to get some rim protection inside.
ESPN: No. 17 – Twice Kevin Love has racked up 40-plus points along with 15-plus boards. Minnesota lost both times. So there's one more head-scratcher, right up there with the Wolves' eighth-best average nightly margin of plus-4.3, to leave you baffled as to why they're 1-10 in games when they can climb over .500.
SPORTS ILLUSTRATED: No. 18 – Kevin Love does so many things for the Wolves, but he's at his least valuable when he's called on to be a volume shooter. Minnesota is now 3-14 in games Love attempts at least 20 shots from the field. The Wolves need Love freed up to do more than just score.
CBS SPORTS: No. 15 – New slogan: "The 2014 Timberwolves: Now only terrible late in close games!"
YAHOO! SPORTS: No. 14 – Hopeful Lakers fans will likely voice their love for former UCLA star Kevin Love when Minnesota visits the Lakers on Tuesday.
FOX SPORTS: No. 15 – The Timberwolves are pushing Western Conference coaches to send center Nikola Pekovic to his first All-Star Game. They’re calling him and Kevin Love the “Bruise Brothers.” I don’t think they meant “bruised” brothers. Fingers crossed Pekovic isn’t sitting.