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When it comes to the Timberwolves, it make little sense to mince words. After consecutive pleasant surprises against New Orleans and Houston last week, the Wolves’ final four games leading into the All-Star break were pretty disheartening. These games were wrapped in an aura of grim defeat. Physical and emotional fatigue permeated the air.

But let’s please be a little bit generous with our Wolves. These losses were the culmination of an exhausting string of injuries and absences, in which the depleted Wolves struggled–admirably, for the most part, if futilely–to craft some coherence from the ruins.

And so I’m not prepared, on the basis of those four unpalatable losses, to call this season an unmitigated disaster. This is not rock bottom. The truth is that, win totals notwithstanding, this team is an improvement over last year. They have played competitive basketball against some of the best teams in the league. They are more energetic and athletic; they are more creative. They can usually shoot the ball pretty well; sometimes they even engage in the kind of sublimely unconscious ball-movement that is the hallmark of the Triangle offense.

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