MINNEAPOLIS (AP)—Even in their loss-filled existence, the Minnesota Timberwolves have never been this bad to start a season.
Carmelo Anthony(notes) scored 22 points and Nene had 17 points, eight rebounds and six assists as the Denver Nuggets handed the Timberwolves their 14th straight loss with a 124-111 victory on Wednesday night.
The Timberwolves have not won since an opening night victory over New Jersey. Their 1-14 mark is the worst start in team history.
Coach Kurt Rambis has tried to accentuate the positives during this skid, but couldn’t hide his disapproval after watching his team fall behind by 24 points in the first half.
“I told them I was very disappointed with them at halftime and I was disappointed with them at the end of the ball game,” Rambis said. “I will always take them playing poorly if I see them playing hard. … But the effort, the energy, the passion, just that competitiveness, it just wasn’t there tonight.”
Corey Brewer(notes) had the first double-double of his career with a career-high 22 points and 13 rebounds. Jonny Flynn(notes) scored 20 points for the Wolves, who cut the lead to eight points in the fourth before fading to yet another loss.
Rambis and new president David Kahn are trying to instill a winning attitude in a team that has known mostly losing in 21 years in the league, especially in the seasons pre- and post-Kevin Garnett(notes). But in their first year at the helm, this young team is giving Pooh Richardson, Felton Spencer and the rest of those hapless “Timberpups” of the past a run for their money.
The 1994-95 team started 1-13, one season before Garnett arrived and turned them into a perennial playoff team. The Wolves eclipsed that dubious mark on Wednesday night and now are challenging the franchise record for consecutive losses, which is 16 in a row first set back in 1992.
“When they start getting pounded and they’re not making their shots, it becomes overwhelming for this young ball club,” Rambis said. “They don’t know how to hold themselves together at that point in time.”
The Wolves trailed by 20 to start the third period, but responded with their highest-scoring quarter of the season. They put up 37 points with Brewer scoring 11 and Ryan Hollins(notes) pouring in 13 of his 19.
There was just one problem—the Nuggets scored 40.
“That falls on us as players,” Hollins said. “It shouldn’t take us to be down by 20 to get angry.”
Anthony, who entered the game leading the NBA in scoring at 30.2 points per game, topped 20 points for the 15th straight game to start the season. That broke the franchise record set by Alex English.
Chauncey Billups(notes) finished the third period with a flourish, hitting three 3-pointers and three free throws after being fouled on a fourth from long distance to push the game out of reach. He finished with 19 points and five assists.
As far as back-to-backs go, the Nuggets had to have one of the cushiest in league history. They defeated winless New Jersey at home on Tuesday, then faced one-win Minnesota on Wednesday. Combined, the Nets and Timberwolves have lost 29 consecutive games.
“We know that those teams are not playing very well at the time and we are playing pretty good,” Billups said. “We know that the most important part of those games are early in those games, taking their confidence away. Letting them know, not tonight. That’s been key for us and I think we’ve been doing a great job in those situations.”
Notes: Anthony is the only player in the league to score at least 20 in every game this season. … Karl nearly pulled out the few hairs he has left on his head when Chris Andersen(notes) put the ball in his own basket in the third quarter. … Hip hop star Chamillionaire sat underneath the Minnesota basket, prompting a long line of young autograph seekers at halftime. … The Timberwolves held a moment of silence for Wizards owner Abe Pollin, who died on Tuesday.