Practice Report | Nov. 2, 2013

Practice Report | Nov. 2, 2013

The Wolves announced after Saturday’s practice the center Ronny Turiaf suffered a radial head fracture of his right elbow during Friday night’s 100-81 win over the Thunder. Turiaf underwent a MRI this morning at TRIA Orthopedics in Bloomington, and he’ll be re-evaluated later this week to determine the approximate timetable for his return to the court.

Turiaf hit the ground hard while leaping for a rebound at the 10:17 mark of the second quarter. He left the game and did not return.

That changes the front court dynamic for the Wolves—however long Turiaf is out. It means rookie Gorgui Dieng will likely start seeing more minutes early on in his career as the Wolves prepare to hit the road and face New York on Sunday and Cleveland on Monday. There is also a chance the Wolves could go small from time-to-time with Kevin Love at the 5. Sliding Love over isn’t something coach Rick Adelman wants to do regularly because of the defensive mismatch it presents in the post, but he does look at it as a possibility toward the end of games when he can force the opponents to adjust their personnel.

Turiaf, who was at practice with his arm in a sling underneath a hooded sweatshirt, brings so much to the team by way of leadership and intensity that Adelman said it is a tough injury for the team to suffer this early in the season. But on the bright side, no surgery is required and the general tone about the injury is that Turiaf likely won’t miss significant time.

“Ronny was playing so well—it’s just unfortunate,” Adelman said. “I’m just glad it’s not anything serious. He’s done a nice job for us. He’s got experience. He’ll be on the court and you might look at the stat sheet and say he didn’t do much, but he really does a lot. I hope he gets back quickly.”

Forward Corey Brewer said Turiaf brings such spirit to the game.

“He’s always up,” Brewer said. “He keeps us going, so now we’ve got—Gorgui gets a chance. He’s young. He’s a rookie. He’ll get thrown in the fire early. I think he’ll be ready.”

Melo’s physicality

We saw Carmelo Anthony play his best basketball last year at the small forward position—his scorer’s touch coupled with his size makes him a difficult matchup for any on-ball defender. Brewer said he’s more physical than any other wing in the league.

With the addition of Andrea Bargnani this offseason, it gives the Knicks a chance to play Anthony at the 3 alongside Bargnani and Tyson Chandler. And presuming the Wolves will see Anthony on the wing on Sunday in New York, it will give the Wolves a difficult matchup on the perimeter for a second straight game. Brewer and Co. handled Kevin Durant on Friday night, but Anthony poses a little bit of a different matchup issue than Durant.

“He’s much more powerful, but we’re going to have to help,” Adelman said. “It’s one of those things. It’s another, we played Dante [Cunningham] on him last year. But he’s a handful. If he’s making shots, he’s much more powerful than Durant. But maybe he’s more likely to force the issue. If he sees a double team coming, he’s going to go and force us to help. It gives us a good barometer of who we can play on those people.”

Brewer was effective on Durant last night because of the way he made Durant work. He didn’t give up good looks, forced him to run on defense and didn’t let him get to the free-throw line. Wearing him down with his cuts and taking off to force the issue in transition are two things Adelman said Brewer needed to do, and Brewer did it with great success last night. Durant finished with 13 points on 4-of-11 shooting.

Now, he’s got another challenge. Durant and Anthony are on the short list of the hardest small forwards in the game to contain. But as Brewer says, if you want to be known as a defensive stopper….

“You’ve got to face the best,” Brewer said. “I’m off to a good start, I guess you could say. We got the win versus OKC, and now we have a chance to go into Madison Square Garden and get another win.”

They key?

“Melo is a strong guy,” Brewer said. “It’s going to be a tough battle. I’ve got to use all of this little 188 pounds.”

Quick Hits

  • Brewer played with Knicks center Tyson Chandler in Dallas when they won the 2011 NBA title, so he is familiar with the former Defensive Player of the Year’s physical style of play. But for Brewer, Nikola Pekovic is on a different level: “Tyson plays hard. He blocks shots. He beats you up. But Pek’s another animal when it comes to that. He’s hitting you all game…Tyson hits you, don’t get me wrong, but Pek hits you every play. They feel Pek. They know he’s out there.”

  • Adelman said one thing that can’t happen is picking up quick fouls against guys like Durant and Anthony. And it can be done. He told the story of former Blazers standout Buck Williams, who he coached in Portland in the late 1980s and early 1990s. “We played Karl Malone over and over and over again. And Buck used to tell me, ‘You know coach, I know he’s going to score. But he’s going to work his [butt] off for every basket he gets. At the end of the day maybe I’ll just wear him down a little bit.’ He knew he was going to get scored on, but he was going to make him work for it. That’s what we have to do.”

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