Practice Report: Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013

Alex Conover
Web Editorial Associate

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As Thursday’s 2 PM trade deadline has come and passed, the Wolves will simply focus on carrying last night’s success into Friday’s contest in Oklahoma City.

The game was Minnesota’s first regular season match in a week. With head coach Rick Adelman with his wife for a medical checkup, assistant coach Terry Porter filled in as acting head coach for today’s practice. Adelman will rejoin the team tomorrow.

“I just thought it was good,” coach Porter said. “Obviously when you come out of an All-Star Break, there’s a lot of rust that needs to come off. I thought our guys in the first half did a good job of moving the ball and playing with energy. Second half, we struggled to make shots, both teams kind of struggled.

“We were fortunate we made more free throws than they did. We were able to knock ours down. It was a good win for us to have some momentum going into the second half.”

The first and second halves were very different in terms of scoring. While the Wolves scored 56 points in the first half on 51 percent shooting, they managed 38 points after halftime off a very pedestrian 24 percent. Minnesota received a large boost from 22 made free throws, especially at the end while holding off a Philadelphia comeback.

“Even in the third, both teams were in the bonus within seven or eight minutes,” Porter added. “For us, the positive thing is that we stayed aggressive offensively. We got to the basket, we put the pressure on those guys and made the referees make calls.”

Different Roles

For the Wolves’ top two scorers last night, they have been dealing with different roles than they expected at the beginning of the year.

Nikola Pekovic rested just six minutes all night, but he was more productive than ever--scoring 27 points and grabbing a career-high-tying 18 rebounds. Backup centers Greg Stiemsma and Chris Johnson did not play. Pekovic noted after today’s practice that he did not feel the difference between 34 or 42 minutes.

Derrick Williams played his fourth-most minutes all year (35) and make the most of them, logging 17 points and eight rebounds. Williams has been thrust into the starting lineup with the absence of injured forward Kevin Love.

"I've been just trying to play more aggressive over the last few weeks, and it's been working,” Williams said. “I've finishing around the basket better, a lot better than I have been at the beginning of the season. I've been knocking down shots, and it just builds confidence whenever you're knocking down your outside shots as well, and your inside shots. I'm just playing a lot more consistent, and when you do that, then your numbers go up."

It was also encouraging for the coaches to see the former No. 2 overall draft choice have a good night, as he has been lately. Prior to Wednesday, Williams dropped a season-high 24 points against the Jazz.

“Every game that Derrick has is a positive in regards to being able to do some good things offensively, having good reads, helping our team system,” Porter said of the young forward. “It’s always a good stride for him to have a better understanding of what we need to help our team win.”

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