Practice Report: Thursday, Dec. 22

Mark Remme
Wolves Editor/Writer

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Perhaps the best word to describe Luke Ridnour's reaction is stunned.

Ridnour, with the Wolves down by one and 16.3 seconds left on the clock in last night's final exhibition game against Milwaukee, patrolled mid court and eyed Bucks forward Larry Sanders as he lobbed a pass in his direction. His reaction? Catch it and make something happen.

"I couldn't believe he threw it, to be honest with you," Ridnour said. "But as soon as I got it I thought I might as well go and make a play, and Mike made a big play."

Forward Michael Beasley drew a foul, hit two shots and capped a 12-0 Timberwolves run in an 85-84 victory over the Bucks.

Offensively, Kevin Love's 3-pointer with 16 seconds left and Beasley's foul shots to take the lead stood out in the comeback. But the Wolves' ability to limit turnovers in those final three minutes, as well as a changed defensive mindset, is what stood out to the team at Thursday's practice.

"That's all we've been focusing on is defense," Wes Johnson said. "I know we worked on the offensive schemes, but defense is our mindset. We're really trying to change the focus to a defensive-minded team. I think everyone is buying into it."

Late in games this preseason, defensive stops have led to Wolves wins.

Minnesota outscored Milwaukee by a combined 100-83 in the second halves of both preseason games, and on Wednesday with the game on the line and the team down by double digits, the Wolves continued to push. In the end, it translated into a win.

"It's the NBA—you're never out of a game," Ridnour said. "Luckily we got some steals, and Mike made a big play. But in the NBA you're never really out of a game. You've always got a shot. We pulled it out and it was a lot of fun.

Turnovers still a concern

Head coach Rich Adelman addressed his concerns regarding the team's 22 turnovers on Wednesday against the Bucks. In two preseason games this season, the Wolves have turned the ball over 36 times.

"We've talked about people staying within their strenghts," Adelman said. "If you keep making the same mistakes over and over, well, you probably shouldn't be doing that."

He said the team had conditioning drills to make up for the turnovers.

"Today we just ran—let them see it," he said. "I thought about 16 of them were unforced, were all our doing. You can't do that in this league."

Rubio, Barea back on court

Guards Ricky Rubio and JJ Barea were on the court for Thursday's practice after both sat out Wednesday's preseason finale.

Rubio rested his sprained right ankle and Barea sat due to a thigh bruise, but both were in uniform and preparing for Monday's regular season opener against Oklahoma City.

Rubio said he was nervous watching the team's comeback against the Bucks, and that he's excited to step out on the floor for his first official NBA game.

"I can't wait to play in a real game in the NBA," he said. "I want it to be Monday right now."

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