Click here to Skip to main content

Wolves' Kirilenko: 'I'm running like a young deer'

Posted Jul 29 2012 10:06PM

LONDON (AP) -- Slashing to the rim, blocking shots and getting out in transition in Russia's first game of the Olympics, Andrei Kirilenko looked every bit the all-around force he was as a young man with the Utah Jazz.

"I feel great," Kirilenko said after scoring 35 points on 14-for-17 shooting against Britain on Sunday. "Look at me. I'm running like a young deer."

The only people happier with his performance than the Russians had to be the Minnesota Timberwolves. After skipping last season to play in his native Moscow, Kirilenko signed a two-year, $20 million contract with the Wolves on Friday.

Kirilenko will be bringing Russian teammate Alexey Shved with him to the Timberwolves next season. Shved had 16 points and 13 assists against overmatched Britain.

"If I'm the Minnesota Timberwolves, I have a big, fat smile on my face," Russian coach David Blatt said.

Speaking to American media for the first time since signing his deal, Kirilenko said he felt refreshed after deciding to stay home during the grueling NBA season that was compacted by the lockout. He played last season with CSKA Moscow, and appears to have an extra bounce in his step after slowing down in the last of his 10 seasons in Utah.

"Last season in CSKA, I feel comfortable, I feel great at home," Kirilenko said. "I feel I should play at the highest level possible. If I'm not going back to NBA, I would probably feel sorry for myself over the next four or five years. I got a call and it was a very, very interesting offer."

Kirilenko likened the Timberwolves to Rick Adelman's Sacramento Kings teams of the late 1990s and early 2000s, a free-wheeling group with plenty of Europeans like Peja Stojakovic and Vlade Divac playing prominent roles.

"For me, it looks like European flavor on the team," said Kirilenko, referring to Ricky Rubio, Nikola Pekovic, himself and Shved. "For me right now, it's pretty much the same type of team-building. A lot of European guys, a lot of guys who can run the floor. Alexey is another big, big plus."

Shved is a versatile combo guard who dominated the pace of play on Sunday, finding Kirilenko time and again for lob passes and backdoor cuts.

"I said prepare right now for Minnesota, that's how you're going to find me," Kirilenko said. "I think he's doing a good job. Last year we played together. We've got connection. He knows when I'm going to cut. I know when he going to start driving so I give him space. But we have to adjust to Rick's system anyway."

Having his Russian teammate, who has extensive experience in the NBA, with him in Minnesota for his first season should help ease Shved's transition to a new league and a new home.

"It's very nice for me because my first year he can help me," Shved said. "It's different, not like Europe."

Kirilenko loved living at home and playing in front of friends and family every night in Moscow. But the chance to play with Rubio, Kevin Love and under Adelman - and that big pile of money - was too much to pass up.

"It's a great team (they're) creating," Kirilenko said. "Kevin has really started to turn into a superstar this year. Last year, a lot of my friends were watching the games, especially Minnesota and how they play. It's very, very energetic and nice."

photoNightly Notable: Russell Westbrook
Russell Westbrook scores 43 points (on 14 for 32 shooting), grabs eight rebounds and dishes out seven assists versus the Bulls.
photoPlay of the Day: E'Twaun Moore
Off the inbounds pass, Pau Gasol finds E'Twaun Moore who drains the clutch game-winning 3-pointer.
photoAssist of the Night: Joakim Noah
Joakim Noah makes the sweet back door bounce pass to find Mike Dunleavy for the easy lay-in.
photoDunk of the Night: Pau Gasol
Pau Gasol spins off his defender and throws it down with emphasis.
photoBlock of the Night: Serge Ibaka
Tony Snell gets into the lane and Serge Ibaka eradicates the shot with the emphatic block.

Copyright © NBA Media Ventures, LLC. All rights reserved. No portion of may be duplicated, redistributed or manipulated in any form. By accessing any information beyond this page, you agree to abide by the Privacy Policy / Your California Privacy Rights and Terms of Use. | Ad Choices Ad Choices is part of Turner Sports Digital, part of the Turner Sports & Entertainment Digital Network.