Practice Report: Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012

Mark Remme
Wolves Editor/Writer

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Wolves forward Derrick Williams had one of his most productive nights of the preseason offensively in Winnipeg, pouring in 18 points in 22 minutes of work as the starting power forward, and his methodology on his performance was simple.

“I finally hit some shots,” Williams said. “That’s what it is. I went through a couple games where I couldn’t hit any shots. But I finally hit some shots and they started falling.”

Williams and Dante Cunningham have shared the role of power forward since Kevin Love’s hand injury, and each has brought their own skill set to the table in helping fill that void. In two games they’ve each gotten one start and have essentially played even minutes during those contests—a loss to Chicago on Friday and a win over Detroit on Wednesday.

They’ve got one more preseason game to fine-tune things before the regular season begins. The Wolves took off after practice to face the Milwaukee Bucks at the Resch Center on Friday in Green Bay.

Williams said no one person is going to fill the void left by Love’s 26.0 points and 13.3 rebounds per game. The key is to not try to do too much and simply play to their personal strengths.

“It’s going to be three or four guys that are going to try to make that up,” Williams said. “It’s going to be me, Dante, Lou [Amundson], any of our big guys that’s going to help. We have to step up a little bit more.”

Williams is averaging 10.0 points and 4.2 rebounds in six preseason games this season.

Pek creating for his teammates

One of the reasons the Wolves’ offense opened up on Wednesday in Winnipeg was the presence of center Nikola Pekovic in the paint. Pekovic not only produces on the stats sheet—he had 14 points and nine rebounds against the Pistons—but he also causes so many problems for opposing defenses that other Wolves players get better looks.

Pistons coach Lawrence Frank said Pekovic is one of the top three strongest players in the league during Wednesday’s shootaround, and that one of Minnesota’s greatest attributes is its ability to control the glass and extend possessions with offensive rebounds. Pekovic not only does that, but he draws defenders in, allowing Minnesota more of a cushion on the wing.

“He’s got a good offensive game all the way around,” Adelman said. “He’s really gotten better at it as he’s gone on, and he can step out and make a 15-foot jumper. Right now we need him around the basket.”

Williams said he’s seen the difference.

“When Pek’s holding down the low post, it leaves you open on the outside,” Williams said.

Quick Hits

  • Wolves guard Luke Ridnour’s back has caused concerns this preseason as he’s missed practice and playing time. But he started on Wednesday and is expected to be on the court Friday in Green Bay, and Adelman said Ridnour continues to express he feels better and is working toward getting his conditioning back. The biggest issue with Ridnour is ensuring he doesn’t have a setback, Adelman said.

  • Adelman said the team is looking to use its final preseason game against the Milwaukee Bucks to try and prepare for the team’s regular season opener against Sacramento on Nov. 2. The focus will be what the team wants to run and who will be part of the different sets. The lineups could look different on Friday, Adelman said, but nothing is set in stone. The Wolves faced Milwaukee in the team’s lone two preseason games last year, beating the Bucks in both contests.

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