Practice Report | Jan. 16, 2014
Practice Report | Jan. 16, 2014
Edge. Toughness. Aggressive.
These were all words that were tossed around after Thursday afternoon’s practice at the Target Center. After dropping another close game last night, the Wolves have improvements to make on the court when it comes to executing, but something that might be even more important is their aggressiveness during games.
How bad do they want it?
“I think we need to develop some sort of edge. We talk a lot of trash. We are edgy in practice, we just need to transition that into the game,” said Wolves forward Kevin Love. “We have it in us, we just need to go out there and do it. And hopefully now that it’s out there, we can kind of hold ourselves accountable.”
The Wolves haven’t had trouble this season much on the offensive end, but defense has been a concern. The Wolves are allowing their opponents to shoot 47.6 percent from the field, which ranks last in the NBA. Another concern is that the team doesn’t really have an identity quite yet. Even with the team dropping two straight games, the Wolves are still only 3.5 games back in the Western Conference. But with offensive threats like the Mavericks, Suns and Nuggets ahead of them in the standings, this team’s defense will need to improve.
“As a group, you’ve got to figure out a way how you’re going to defend people. And we had two games in a row – we’ve talked about it all year long – that’s why I say get out of your comfort zone,” said Wolves head coach Rick Adelman. “We have some really good offensive players, but they have to do something at the other end, too. That’s a fine line. What does a guy give you, one end over the other end. But the effort has got to be there. I think that’s what we’re looking for, consistent effort, game after game. If we have that, then you’re able to respond.”
The Wolves are 38 games into the season and things are starting to form in the Western Conference. This is the point where teams generally fall apart or make a leap into the top half of the Western Conference. Minnesota knows time is running out and every game has significance, starting again with tomorrow’s road game against the Toronto Raptors.
“Well, I mean, (we) still got time, but it’s time to do it,” said point guard Ricky Rubio. “But we are not that far, we just have to play our basketball because we know we can be a good team.”
Fans or Coaches?
Love is on the verge of being voted into the All-Star game by fans. He currently trails Blake Griffin in the voting, but Minnesota made a surge last week that might put Love ahead of Griffin. We’ll know for sure after voting closes on Jan. 20.
In 2011, Love was named as an injury-replacement for Yao Ming in the All-Star game. In 2012, Love was voted in by the coaches. This season, Love has the chance to complete the “trifecta,” but either way, he’s happy just having the opportunity to be apart of the game.
“You know, it’s nice to have the respect around the league from head coaches to get voted in, but also the fan vote is huge,” Love said. “Because that means you’re well liked, and people love watching and appreciate your game.”
You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who knows even a little bit about basketball that doesn’t think Love is worthy of appearing in the All-Star game. Love is averaging 25.6 points per game compared to Griffin’s mark of 22.3. He’s third in the league averaging 13 rebounds per game. Griffin is averaging 10.3. Love is also averaging a career-high four assists per game. Griffin’s mark is at 3.4.
For All-Star voting information, head to www.Timberwolves.com/vote.
“Yeah, of course I mean, when things are not going the right way the only thing I (blame) is myself and sometimes I’m too hard, but that’s the way I am,” Rubio said. “I want to be perfect. I know it’s hard, you know, but it’s the way I am and I need to improve in that area, too. Sometimes I can make mistakes, I just want to be doing everything good and sometimes it’s not.”
“That’s what we love about him, coming in for Pek, because he gives you energy right off the bat.”
The Wolves travel to play the Toronto Raptors (19-18) tomorrow at 6 p.m. The game will be aired on Fox Sports North and WCCO 830-AM.