MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Rick Adelman is trying to change the culture in Minnesota from one that accepts losing.
If the coach is successful in making that happen, he may look to veteran guard J.J. Barea’s stinging criticism of some teammates as the first step in the right direction.
Adelman said Tuesday that he did not have a problem with Barea’s comments that some Timberwolves didn’t care enough after a recent loss. In fact, the coach said he supported players making their feelings known when they see something they don’t like.
“You have to really feel the hurt when you lose games after the game is over,” said Adelman, whose team has lost 12 of 13 as it limps to the finish. “When you lose a game like we did on Sunday, I think the frustration just took over with him. It certainly did with me, too.”
The Timberwolves were in playoff position in early March before being deluged by injuries to point guard Ricky Rubio (torn ACL), center Nikola Pekovic (ankle), guard Luke Ridnour (ankle), forward Kevin Love (concussion) and Barea (various leg injuries). The young and rebuilding franchise hasn’t been able to weather the adversity, but Adelman said he expected more from a team that may have grown too accustomed to losing.
“People should get mad. People should not accept that,” Adelman said. “I think young players sometimes have to learn that. The game ends, you don’t get dressed in 10 minutes and leave. At least you think about it.
“I think that’s what he was saying. I think that’s a lesson for all of our team, especially. You don’t condone it. You don’t accept losing. You just don’t do it.”
Barea, who helped the Dallas Mavericks to the NBA title last season, declined to comment Tuesday. But he said plenty Sunday night after the Timberwolves gave up a 21-point lead at home in a loss to the Golden State Warriors.
Without naming names, Barea blistered some teammates, saying there weren’t enough players in the locker room who cared about the outcomes of games.
“We’ve got problems here,” Barea said after playing all 48 minutes. “We’ve got a lot of guys that don’t care. … We’re just going to keep getting L’s until we get players here that care.”
Several teammates said they didn’t agree with Barea’s assessment and that they thought it was a collective loss.
Love did not play in the game, but did say Tuesday that he thought most of the players cared about the product they were putting on the floor.
“Obviously there was some air taken out from underneath us, but I think guys do care,” Love said. “I just think J.J. was upset. A guy coming from a championship team, he kind of saw it a little different the past few years at the end of the season.”
The Timberwolves are nearing the end of another miserable finish. They wrap up the season Thursday night against Denver and will enter the game with just one victory in April in the last three seasons.
“Whether we were hurt or not, there’s just no way (that can happen),” Adelman said. “We tried as a staff to figure out every way we could to keep the thing turned. I think there’s a lot of hope, but I think we have to be realistic about where we are.
“We’ve had three years in a row of the same thing in April. I think we have to take a pretty hard look to see what’s going on and change the culture.”
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