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The Atlanta Hawks aren't the Lakers, Clippers, Bucks or any other team that is billed as a title contender this season.

They are a young team currently going through their own struggles in finding an identity and still made the Timberwolves look like they didn't belong on the same floor in a 116-98 demolition at Target Center on Friday night.

The Wolves always knew if they missed Karl-Anthony Towns for any amount of time they would be flailing to get wins.

But for most of this season they have looked helpless. Ricky Rubio has seen his share of helpless basketball given that he's been with the Wolves before, but Rubio sounded weary in a young season after his first game back from the COVID protocols.

"Been 10 years in the league and been in rough stretches, but this one is probably one of the toughest," said Rubio, who had four points in 15 minutes. "For everything that's going on in the world in general, but then you put in basketball. When things are not going well sometimes you need to take your mind out of it and then come back. But there's not [a chance to do] that in this moment right now."

The Wolves have a young roster by design from President Gersson Rosas, but nights like Friday make it hard for fans to see the vision of what this team could be, especially for a fan base that has seen its share of front offices come and go without much success.

The Wolves are 1-9 when they play without Towns, and 10 games is a significant amount of time. It's hard to see how this Wolves team has gotten noticeably better from that first game to the 10th.

"It was hard for me to see that, too," coach Ryan Saunders said. "I will say I think there's areas that our group is going to continue to get better at."

BOXSCORE: Atlanta 116, Wolves 98

Saunders pointed to things such as Anthony Edwards' flashes of play, even amid his recent struggles, and the development of Jaden McDaniels, but that felt like small consolation after such a rout.

Rubio said the Wolves need a team meeting — and a long one.

"We need like a three-hour meeting," Rubio said. "But after talking, we gotta execute the words."

But because of COVID protocols the Wolves can't meet for more than a few minutes.

There are still defensive mistakes that shouldn't be happening, like when the Wolves, after a made free throw, allowed Atlanta's Trae Young to go the length of the floor for a layup with 28.3 seconds left in the second quarter to set up a two-for-one. Young finished with 43 points.

"I don't think anybody on this team can say, 'I'm good, I'm doing the right thing,' " Rubio said.

Their best player without Towns, D'Angelo Russell, scored only nine points on 2-for-9 shooting and got to rest for the fourth quarter in another blowout. Malik Beasley led the Wolves with 17 points.

"There's always a light at the end of the tunnel, no matter what's going on," Beasley said. "It's all about perspective."

It just gets difficult to maintain that as the losses accumulate.

Clint Capela had quite the night for Atlanta in getting a triple-double by way of blocked shots. He had 13 points, 19 rebounds and 10 blocks, tying a Target Center record for blocks and allowing the Hawks bench to howl in celebration when he got block No. 10.

At least somebody was happy in Target Center on Friday night.