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Adelman pays reeling Timberwolves a visit

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Adelman pays reeling Timberwolves a visit

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Eight days after first leaving the Minnesota Timberwolves to be with his hospitalized wife, Rick Adelman met with his team on Wednesday morning.

The coach wanted to offer some words of encouragement to a reeling team that has lost four in a row and appears to be succumbing to a litany of injuries that just keeps getting bigger.

Adelman also got some words of support as well before leaving again to be by his wife's side as she deals with an undisclosed illness.

``We miss him and we know he's going through some hard stuff,'' point guard Ricky Rubio said. ``But we are with him and we support him any time.''

Adelman has missed the last five games after his wife, Mary Kay, went to the hospital to seek treatment. The intensely private Adelman has not disclosed any specifics of his wife's ailment, and there remains no timetable for his return. Mary Kay was still in the hospital on Wednesday and assistant Terry Porter planned to coach the team for a sixth straight game on Thursday night against the Clippers.

While Adelman has been away from the team, the Wolves have crumbled. They lost all four of their games on their most recent road trip, each one by double digits. For a team that prided itself on overcoming so many injuries early in the season and never getting blown out in the losses they did incur, the recent run of decisive defeats has set an ominous tone for a team that doesn't seem to be getting any healthier.

All-Star Kevin Love will miss at least the next two months with a right hand that was broken for the second time this season. Swingman Chase Budinger won't be back for at least another six weeks after injuring a knee in November, and anything from Brandon Roy this season would appear to be a bonus at this point.

Rubio also hasn't been the same dynamic player he was before tearing the ACL in his left knee last March, and a different player seems to miss practice or a game every week with an illness. Andrei Kirilenko, Alexey Shved and Lazar Hayward all were out on Wednesday, leaving the Wolves with eight players for practice.

``We're going through some tough times,'' guard J.J. Barea said. ``We've just got to stay together, keep fighting, keep fighting. Try to steal a couple games here and there and hopefully at some point everybody comes back and we can make a run.''

Some of the biggest problems of late have been on defense. The team started the season playing some of the best defense it has in years, putting them in the top five in points allowed for most of the first month. As injuries have piled up, and the schedule has gotten tougher, the Wolves have fallen apart on that end. Their opponents have topped 100 points in seven of the last eight games and the weary Wolves were outscored 63-21 in fast-break points in losses to San Antonio and Dallas.

``We've just got to come ready to play,'' forward Derrick Williams said. ``Even though we're down and we're hurt and a couple guys are playing hurt, we've just got to do what we have to do. Just get out there and play for each other, play for the fans and deal with what we have right now.''

Adelman has received a lot of the credit for helping the Timberwolves move from a perennial doormat in the Western Conference to one that started the season with playoff expectations. He's been watching the games while he's been away, calling his assistants to offer advice and encouragement. He finally got face-to-face with the players on Wednesday, and he told them he was proud of the fight they've shown while dealing with so much adversity.

``It was good for the guys to see him and for him to talk to the guys,'' Porter said. ``It felt good to have him here, have him talk to them and just give them an update on everything and kind of let them know.''

The team seemed to get a lift from Adelman's appearance, but the hard reality is they play the Clippers twice in the next two weeks and also have difficult games against the Rockets, Hawks and Nets coming up before the end of the month.

``He said we have to stay together,'' Rubio said. ``We've been through a lot of stuff this year and there's no excuses to stop now. We're just going to go forward with the players we (have) and get it all together.''

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Follow Jon Krawczynski on Twitter:http://twitter.com/APKrawczynski

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Remembering the other series-clinching goal from Evgeny Kuznetsov

Remembering the other series-clinching goal from Evgeny Kuznetsov

When you think about Evgeny Kuznetsov in the playoffs, most probably think of his overtime-winning goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2018 that ended the series and handed Washington a long-awaited victory over its archrival. But that wasn’t the first series-clinching goal Kuznetsov scored.

Before the Stanley Cup was brought to Washington, before the bird celebration, there was another epic moment of Kuznetsov’s career that now feels overshadowed by the 2018 run.

In 2015, the Caps returned to the playoffs after a one-year hiatus. They entered the postseason as the second-place team in the Metropolitan Division, drawing the third-place New York Islanders in the first round.

A back-and-forth series, it ultimately went the distance with Game 7 being played in Washington. As even as the series had been, the Caps dominated that Game 7, suffocating the Islanders and giving up only 11 shots on goal. Joel Ward put Washington ahead 1-0, but Frans Nielsen tied it early in the third period. Despite the dominant defensive performance, Jaroslav Halak (remember him?) would not allow the Caps to the chance to put the game away.

Just when it began to feel as if Halak was going to steal away another Game 7 from the Caps, a young Russian center in just his first full NHL season took over.

With less than eight minutes remaining in the third period, Kuznetsov took a pass along the half wall, showed Frans Nielsen his back and when Nielsen bit, he spun and cut to the center of the ice. Nielsen was caught a step behind and whacked Kuznetsov in desperation, actually diving to the ice to try to keep him from breaking loose. In one slick move Kuznetsov had cut through the Islanders’ defense and was in alone on net. Halak went down to the butterfly as Kuznetsov cut to center, but Kuznetsov showed incredible patience and did not immediately shoot. Suddenly, Halak was committed and helpless. He dove to his right desperately holding up the glove as Kuznetsov kept gliding across the ice, but Halak had left too much of the net open by going down too soon and Kuznetsov hit the corner.

With 7:18 remaining in the game and the series, Kuznetsov had given the Caps the 2-1 lead.

The series was a breakout performance for Kuznetsov who returned the following season and earned a top-six role, something not all that easy for young players to do under head coach Barry Trotz. It also gave a franchise still bearing the scars of Halak’s 2010 upset a measure of revenge.

And the rest is history.

What heroics does Kuznetsov have in store for the Islanders on Saturday when the two teams meet at 1 p.m.? Tune in to NBC Sports Washington at 12 p.m. for coverage.

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Wizards committed more turnovers against the Raptors than they have in any game in 25 years

Wizards committed more turnovers against the Raptors than they have in any game in 25 years

Whether it's good or bad, nothing the Wizards do is subtle. 

They'll score a million points and give up two million points. They'll beat the Heat, Nuggets and Celtics without Bradley Beal but also blow an 18-point fourth quarter lead to the Bulls. 

The Wizards had some turnover issues Friday night, but again, they're never subtle. 

Washington committed 28 turnovers on the way to a 29-point loss. Following the first seven minutes of play, the Wizards had seven turnovers and seven points. 

The last time the Wizards turned the ball over that much was April 2, 1994, in a 104-96 win over the Bucks. The last time an NBA team turned it over 28 times? The 2010 Suns. 

Nine Wizards players had multiple turnovers, while five players had at least three. 

Following Bradley Beal's comments criticizing the team's culture and need to develop winning habits, the Wizards' response left more than enough to be desired. Credit the Raptors defense utilizing their length and ball pressure to take advantage of when the Wizards were loose with the ball, but it takes more than good defense to turn it over 28 times. 

The bright side is this was an uncharacteristic performance for the Wizards. They currently average the 10th-fewest turnovers per game in the NBA, so there's a good chance they clean things up on Monday against the Pistons. 

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