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It is comedy when Target Center's big overhead scoreboard shows blooper footage of poor souls tumbling off teeter-totters and rope swings onto their heads, as it did late in Thursday's 90-77 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.

It's not when the show gets played out on the court below nightly, as it did once again on Thursday when the Wolves used just nine players and then lost two more players to injury against a Clippers team that goes 10 players deep even without injured star Chris Paul.

Starting center Nikola Pekovic left in the third quarter never to return Thursday because of a bruised thigh, and rookie Alexey Shved limped to the locker room with 5 1/2 minutes left because of a sprained left ankle during a nationally televised TNT game.

You know it's gone from bad to worse when an 85-year-old radio reporter offered Shved his cane in the locker room afterward while teammate Ricky Rubio spoke passionately about his team's predicament a few stalls away.

"We are in the middle of the storm," said Terry Porter, acting head coach for a team that's even missing head coach Rick Adelman indefinitely. "This is like a perfect storm right now."

The Wolves now have lost five consecutive games, two more than the Clippers have lost since these two teams last met in Los Angeles in late November.

On Thursday, they shuffled the starting lineup, summoning Ricky Rubio for his first start this season and substituting Derrick Williams for Dante Cunningham at Kevin Love's power-forward spot.

And still they couldn't nearly overcome an opponent whose bench outscored theirs 45-23 and won for the 23rd time in 26 games since they beat the Wolves on Nov. 28.

"It's tough, I'm not going to hide it," said Rubio, whose playing-time limit was boosted Thursday to more than 27 minutes in his first start since March knee surgery.

"It's tough when you're playing and there are no more bodies there, but that's no excuse. We are professionals. We're going to be here and I think the players who are healthy have to step up and do a better job."

It says something that not long ago Rubio was among the team's many injured and now he's among the relatively few healthy.
http://www.startribune.com/sports/wolves/187391971.html
 
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