Playoffs will be tough to reach if Wolves don't win close games

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After Monday night's blowout win over the Philadelphia 76ers, the Minnesota Timberwolves are back at .500 with a record of 17-17. The last time they were better than .500 was Nov. 23 when they were 8-7.

The Wolves have lost seven straight games this season when they've had an opportunity to boost their record above the even mark, and getting bashed in the fourth quarter is a big reason why.

Losses to Cleveland and Washington earlier this season, along with last second losses to Dallas and Oklahoma City in the last week were all winnable games, but the Wolves crumbled down the stretch, just like they did in three losses to the Clippers in which they were outscored by a combined 10 points.

At 8-8, the Wolves were within three-points of Denver in the final minute but they couldn't come back. Another example came when they were 11-11 and they blew a nine-point fourth quarter lead at San Antonio and lost 117-110. In essence, the Wolves were in control in the fourth quarter of five of their seven chances to crack the .500 mark.

"It's something that we have to understand, that the last three, four minutes of the game is totally different," coach Rick Adelman told FOX Sports North. "You've got to be more aggressive. You've got to be tougher."

"You have to execute down the stretch. You've got to defend and rebound. You've got to get stops when the game's on the line, and that's something, obviously, we haven't done in close games."

Minnesota's next chance to get their head above water comes Wednesday night against the Suns.

ESPN's Tim Legler says the Wolves have underachieved to this point, and the pressure is on Kevin Love to lead the Wolves to the playoffs.

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