Practice Report | Dec. 26, 2013

Practice Report | Dec. 26, 2013



The Wolves returned to practice on Thursday after taking three days off over Christmas to relax, recover and visit family. It’s rare during the NBA season to have that many consecutive days off with no scheduled basketball activity, and to have it over the holidays is especially unusual.

So the Wolves took advantage of the time off. After a tough pair of losses in Los Angeles over the weekend, they took the time to regroup before moving on.

“We definitely needed it,” forward Kevin Love said. “Just need to get back to our winning ways, especially with our first real homestand here. … We need to win at home. This is where we need to make our push.”

It’s hard to believe, but it’s true the Wolves have not played consecutive home games since Nov. 20 against the Clippers and Nov. 22 against the Nets. Since then, they’ve had 10 road games and four home games. That’s not to say Minnesota hasn’t let a few road games slip away during that span—the Celtics, Lakers and Clippers come to mind—but they have had more time away from Target Center than here in town.

Now, the schedule is about to break back into their favor. This is where the team needs to take advantage and put together a streak of sorts.

Between now and Jan. 18, the Wolves will play eight of their 12 games at Target Center. That includes four of their next five between now and Jan. 4 in town—those games being against the Wizards (Friday), Mavericks (Dec. 30), Pelicans (Jan. 1) and Thunder (Jan. 4).

Minnesota, sitting two games under .500, is in position at this point to try and get themselves back into a more favorable spot in the playoff hunt. The Wolves are 10th in the West at this point, three games behind the Warriors for the eighth seed. With this home stretch coming up, the Timberwolves have a chance to take advantage of their good fortune at home (8-4 this year) compared to their trouble finishing games out on the road (5-11).

“I looked at the schedule [earlier this season] and said that close to the New Year or after the New Year, I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s going to let up but it’s going to be a little easier for us because we’re going to be a home a few more games,” Love said. “You know we like to play here at Target Center.”

It begins on Friday against the Wizards, a team that beat the Wolves 104-100 in D.C. on Nov. 19. That was one of those contests that slipped away, and Minnesota has a chance at payback on its home turf. This will be an intriguing matchup, as the Wizards come in with a 12-13 record of their own and are currently sixth in the East. They’ve got a lot riding on this game, too.

John Wall is the catalyst of this team, averaging 19.6 points and 9.1 assists per game from the point guard position. Bradley Beal continues to thrive next to him, as he’s averaging 19.6 points per game as well at shooting guard. He’s incredibly effective when healthy, and he’s played in Washington’s last three games after missing nine games with a stress injury to his right leg.

When the Wolves faced Washington on Nov. 19, the Wizards had lost four straight. After they beat Minnesota, the Wizards won seven of nine. The Wolves are looking for that type of stretch beginning with Washington on Friday.

Quick Hits

  • Wolves forward Chase Budinger continues to practice with the team as he prepares to make his return to lineup. But there’s no indication that it’s imminent. Budinger is getting his time with the team but he continues to take his time. Minnesota doesn’t want him to reinjure that left knee, but he also needs to ensure his conditioning is increased and he doesn’t suffer any injuries while his body compensates for lost time on the court. More on Budinger’s progress coming soon on Timberwolves.com. But Budinger continues to look good with his jump shooting after practice, which is always a good sign.

  • Coach Rick Adelman also said center Ronny Turiaf’s progress is coming along. Turiaf hasn’t had any contact drills yet, but Adelman said he thinks that could happen in the next few days. No 5-on-5, but getting into contact drills would be a big step. On Thursday, Turiaf was seen doing post-practice shooting and dribbling, another sign of progress.



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