Practice Report | Feb. 11, 2014
If there’s a list of teams that could use the All-Star Break, the Wolves are probably at the top of it.
Yes, Minnesota has lost four straight and six of its last seven games. Perhaps a break would help the team forget about some of those losses. But more importantly a break would give the Wolves exactly that: a physical break away from the basketball court. The Wolves have dealt with injuries to Nikola Pekovic (ankle), Kevin Martin (thumb) and Kevin Love (back, quad) over the last two weeks and it hasn’t been easy to implement guys in the lineup.
“Yeah, obviously the injuries and guys being beat up,” said acting head coach Terry Porter after Tuesday’s practice. “It’s just the time of the year when they definitely need it to regroup and give their body a chance to rest and come back fresh and be ready for the second half.”
Minnesota hasn’t used the injuries as excuses. Throughout the last week, players and coaches have echoed that it’s something that every team has to go through. The Wolves just hope they can survive this stretch and put together something after the All-Star Break.
“We lost a lot of games by two points, three points,” said wing Corey Brewer. “That’s tough. If you can’t win close games, it hurts you in the long run. I think it hurt us in the long run, but you never know. We could come win 15-20 in a row. You never know. Anything can happen.”
As of Tuesday afternoon, the Wolves were seven games back from the Dallas Mavericks from the eight seed in the Western Conference. With just 30 games remaining, that seems like a pretty tough task. Of anyone, though, Brewer knows it’s at least possible. Last year Brewer played on a Denver Nuggets team that won 57 games. From Feb. 23 to March 23, the Nuggets won 15 straight games.
“It’s doable,” Brewer said. “… Anything can happen.”
Speaking of Denver…
The Wolves take on the Nuggets tomorrow at the Target Center. So far this season, Denver has had Minnesota’s number, going 2-0 against the Wolves thus far. Injuries won’t be an excuse for the Wolves tomorrow since the Nuggets are going through some pretty similar obstacles.
Ty Lawson (rib), Danilo Gallinari (knee), Nate Robinson (knee), Andre Miller (personal) and JaVale McGeee (tibia) will miss tomorrow’s game.
“Oh, they’re going to play hard,” Brewer said about his former squad. “No matter what, they have a bunch of guys ready to play. Even though they’re missing their point guards, they still got guys like (Randy) Foye, (Evan) Fournier, so we got to be ready to go.”
Minnesota will have to bring some more defensive intensity than it did against the Houston Rockets on Monday night. The Rockets put up 67 first-half points in the win, the most Minnesota has allowed in the first half all season.
Despite being without a few core players, expect the Nuggets to push the ball tomorrow. The Nuggets are scoring 103.3 points per game, three above the league average. The also are playing the fourth highest pace of play this season, just one spot lower than the Wolves.
“They are a team that likes to get up and down the floor you know, one thing we have to do a real good job of is getting back on defense,” said Chase Budinger. “And I think that kind of hurt us (against the Rockets). They got out on the fast breaks and got too many easy baskets on us and that’s what Denver does.”
Tomorrow’s game is at the Target Center at 7 p.m. The game will be aired on Fox Sports North and WCCO 830-AM.
“Yeah, it’s getting better,” Budinger said. “I feel like my legs are starting to come back, wind is getting a little better and I’m just happy that I’m seeing improvements each week, each every two weeks I’m seeing improvements and that’s all I could really ask for right now.”
“Take Michael Jordan and (Scottie) Pippen out of the lineup. What would they do? Is B.J. Armstrong going to become a scorer for them? It’s just hard in this league to do that.”