Practice Report: Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013

Alex Conover
Web Editorial Associate

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The LifeTime Fitness Training Center looked fuller than normal after Wolves practice, as several players were working out even if they are not cleared to practice and participate in full team activities.

Wolves guard Brandon Roy was in-house doing his individual workouts in the weight room, and Chase Budinger was also present in workout gear. Nikola Pekovic, out 7-10 days with a right quad contusion, worked out with Wolves trainers.

Alexey Shved, who suffered a sprained left ankle on Thursday against the Clippers, was on the court a bit during Tuesday’s practice, according to coach Terry Porter, just to see how his ankle is feeling. Porter said he didn’t think Shved was ready quite yet to return, but he was trying to loosen up his ankle and did some of the half court sets. The team didn’t do full-court activity during Tuesday’s practice.

Porter said a big part of the Wolves’ focus was simply cleaning up execution offensively and defensively coming off Monday’s 104-96 loss in Atlanta. Part of it was communication, getting to the right spots and figuring out the right reads on the fly.

Part of the loss, Porter said, was simply Atlanta getting hot in the second half.

“When you talk about breakdowns, you talk about things you can control. You can’t control guys getting hot and making shots,” Porter said. “That happens in our league every night. Sometimes guys aren’t having a good stretch, all of a sudden they break out against you. But the things we can control are easy baskets, transition, communication. Things like that. Those are thing we talked about.”

Wolves guard Luke Ridnour said the key is working on executing their plays.

“We are getting off to good starts, but second halves, we have to carry it over,” Ridnour said. “Finding the energy and find a way to win the games in the second half.”

Looking ahead to Brooklyn

The Wolves host the new-look Nets on Wednesday, ushering in a 25-16 squad that sits fourth in the Eastern Conference. Their core of Deron Williams, Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson are combining for 52.8 points per game.

“[Williams is] one of the best guards in the league, so he’s always hard to guard,” Luke Ridnour said after Tuesday’s practice. “[Brook] Lopez is playing well, Joe Johnson can really score, they’re all playing a little more free and making things happen.”

When questioned about what the Wolves can do to improve, coach Terry Porter focused on Minnesota executing and taking matters into their own hands.

“Have to focus on things you can control,” Porter said. “You can’t control a guy getting hot and breaking out against you, that happens every night in this league. The things you can control are easy baskets, transition, communication, things like that.”

Rubio remains focused on return to full strength

Wolves guard Ricky Rubio talked at length on Tuesday about where he’s at in his recovery from knee surgery last March, and he admits he’s not 100 percent back as he continues to make strides in his minute limits and role with the team.

Rubio returned to the court Dec. 15 against Dallas playing 18 minutes, and over the 13 games he’s played those minutes have increased to as many as 30 on Saturday against Houston. He’s started the last three games.

Still, Rubio said Tuesday that his left leg is still lacking a little bit of the power he once had, and he’s working toward getting that power back. In the meantime, it has affected how he attacks the rim and has taken away from his jump shooting.

“I’m moving pretty good, side to side, but then when I have to power—I have to jump—I don’t feel like I jump,” Rubio said.

Rubio joked he has never jumped too high, but right now he can feel his body isn’t quite back to where it was before the torn ACL and LCL.

“I’m not going to say I was doing 360s and all this stuff, but I was able to dunk,” Rubio joked. “Right now I can’t. I’m going to work hard to be able to.”

Rubio is currently averaging 4.2 points and 4.9 assists per game in 2012-13, and he can tell he’s working his way back even from his initial comeback against the Mavericks back in December. That night, he scored eight points and grabbed nine assists—adrenaline and emotion likely making an impact. He said he had people who went through the same knee surgery texting him after the game saying he did in one night what others couldn’t do for three months.

But Rubio continues to work toward getting back to full strength this year as his minutes increase and his legs return. His focus is continuing to get better as the season goes on.

“I’m living in the present,” Rubio said. “I’m doing as good as I can right now, and I’m doing my best to get healthy this season. I’m not thinking about anything else.”

Quick Hits

  • Ridnour on what the Wolves need to do in the second half of games: “We are getting off to good starts, but second half, we have to carry it over. Find the energy and find a way to win the game in the second half.”

  • Coach Porter on his communication with coach Rick Adelman, who is still absent from the team: “We talk every day at least once, if not twice just to catch up on the team and catch up on his situation. We talk about sets, to plays, to minutes, how guys have played, those discussions happen once if not twice a day.”

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