Thunder 104, Wolves 100 27 Dec 11

The Timberwolves began their 23rd season Monday night against Oklahoma City, the beginning of an opening stretch when they will play six of their first seven games at home.

The NBA schedule makers sure didn’t do them any big favors, though.

The Wolves opened with a 104-100 loss to Oklahoma City in which they trailed by 12 points in the third quarter but forced the Thunder to the final three seconds on a night when a standing-room only crowd at Target Centerwelcomed new coach Rick Adelman and rookies Ricky Rubio and Derrick Williams.

After a quick trip to Milwaukee for a game on Tuesday, they will play Miami, Dallas, San Antonio, Memphis and, um, Cleveland consecutively at Target Center.

“It’s a beast,” Wolves All-Star forward Kevin Love said. “We have a very tough stretch. Right out of the gate, it’s pretty tough for us. We need as much time as we can get on the floor together, just to get ourselves going. Playing those teams will be a little different because they’ve been on the floor so long together. They’ve been able to put together in two weeks of training camp what we haven’t been able to put together.

“That’s where that time on the floor really makes a difference.”

Take away the Cavaliers and those first five teams visiting Target Center this season had a combined .676 winning percentage last season.

“We all know the NBA is hard,” said newly signed guard J.J. Barea, a member of last season’s NBA champion Mavericks. “We might as well get it going and start it off hard. It’s going to be a good challenge for us the first week of the season and we’ll go from there. I got no question about this: The coaches did a good job getting us ready for the first game. Now we’ll see what happens.”