Practice Report | March 27, 2014

Last night, Wolves fans got a glimpse of something they haven’t seen much before. Ricky Rubio was on the court with fellow point guard J.J. Barea while wing players Robbie Hummel and Chase Budinger joined the two.

It’s something head coach Rick Adelman hasn’t done very often this season, but his goal on Wednesday night against the Atlanta Hawks was to space the floor. Mission accomplished. In the final 12 minutes of the game, Budinger and Hummel scored 19 of the team’s 32 fourth quarter points. Twelve of those points came from the 3-point line. Not bad for two players who aren’t sure when and for how long they will be on the floor on a given night.

“They’re out there on that one side, teams really didn’t know where to go, who to go to,” said Wolves coach Rick Adelman after Thursday’s practice at the Target Center. “And especially with Ricky and J.J. on the floor, I felt like the more shooters we had—especially taking Kevin out—I wanted to put more shooters on the floor so he could get to the basket.”

We’ve heard “Hummel Time” said a few times around fans lately. Nobody really knows when Hummel’s time really is, though. The former Purdue star seems to be ready whenever he gets in the game. Whether you throw him in to start the game or in the fourth quarter during a close game, like we saw last Sunday against Sacramento, he always looks aggressive and ready to play.

“He’s ready to play, and I think anybody who, guys who aren’t playing a lot or whatever, they should take a look at him,” Adelman said. “One thing he does do consistently besides shooting is he rebounds the ball. He’s always got a nose for the ball, and I’m going to play the people that I think want to play.”

For Budinger, it’s been a bit of a disappointing after he underwent his second knee surgery within a year before Training Camp. Budinger is averaging just 6.2 points per game this season, a career low, but most experts say that it takes a full calendar year after surgery to see where that player is really at. Chances are, we won’t see if Budinger will get back to the player he was before until next January. These next 12 games are important for him as well, and Adelman thinks it could give him some much-needed confidence heading into the offseason.

“All those guys need to understand, OK, we’re a long ways from being in the playoffs. But this season isn’t over. And you know, everybody has got to go out and play hard and show what they can do,” Adelman said. “There’s an evaluation going on whether you’re in the playoffs or not. Our guys need to try to finish off the season on a positive note. Everybody has to do that. But individuals have to finish off this year on a positive, too. And I think this summer, for Chase it will be a positive for him to work out all summer.”

The Return of the Pek

It might be coming soon. It might not be. At this point, we’re not real sure. Adelman said on Wednesday that Pekovic wanted to play this weekend, but at this point, the center still hasn’t gone through a full practice.

On Thursday, he did “a little bit of practicing.” In the Adelman Dictionary, we aren’t sure what that means. As of now, mark him as questionable for tomorrow.

“We’ll see how they (the trainers) feel tomorrow,” Adelman said.

If Pekovic is unable to go, rookie center Gorgui Dieng will get his seventh start, and will get a chance to get his sixth double-double.

So far, it looks like Dieng is having a pretty fun time out there on the court and that’s something that has rubbed off on fans.

“I just love playing basketball,” Dieng said. “Whether it’s in the street, outside, wherever. I just love playing basketball. I chose to be a basketball player, I need to make it fun.”

Quick Hits

  • The Wolves host the Los Angeles Lakers tomorrow at 7 p.m.. The Lakers are an injured bunch, but Adelman still thinks they pose as a problem defensively for the Wolves: “They can really score. They attacked us, we went to LA the last time we played them (there) and they’ve added a couple people. When you score 51 points (in the 3rd) against New York the other day.”

  • Dieng’s Louisville Cardinals play in the Sweet 16 tomorrow night against the Kentucky Wildcats. Dieng has been very supportive of his crew and that continued on Thursday: “I hope we win. I will pray for them.”

  • Rubio needs one more steal to tie Tyrone Corbin’s franchise single-season record of 175.

  • For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Timberwolves and Mark Remme on Twitter.