Practice Report: Monday, February 6

Mark Remme
Wolves Editor/Writer

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The Timberwolves spend much of Monday’s practice adjusting after receiving word from the NBA that forward Kevin Love will be suspended for the next two games against Sacramento on Tuesday and Memphis on Wednesday.

Love, who was suspended two games for stepping on Houston’s Luis Scola during Saturday’s game, leads the league by playing more than 39 minutes per game this season, so replacing his presence and his 25 points and 13.7 rebounds a night means the team must make adjustments on both ends of the floor.

Coach Rick Adelman said similar to when a player goes down with an injury, teammates must adjust and step up.

“Everybody’s going to have an opportunity,” Adelman said. “Derrick (Williams), AT (Anthony Tolliver). We’re going to have to do it by committee. People are going to have to step up.”

Fortunately for the Wolves, center Nikola Pekovic has stepped up in the past two weeks and, alongside Love, has been a viable rebounder on both ends of the floor. He’s averaging 9.6 rebounds per game in his past six contests.

Tolliver saw extended minutes and was a strong asset both defensively down low and offensively from the perimeter earlier in the season. Williams has bounced between small forward and power forward depending on the team’s need, though Adelman has said Williams is more polished at the power forward position.

“We have to come out with the same energy and focus. This is a big one,” guard Luke Ridnour said. “Not having Kevin, everyone else has to do a little more. We have to rebound, collectively all do a little bit more. Find a way to get it done. We have momentum, now we just have to keep it going.”

Adelman said Monday was an adjustment period.

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“We had to put in the people who are going to play the next two games,” Adelman said. “The things we do with Kevin is a lot different than some of the other guys. Guys like Derrick and Anthony, we went through things that will be more beneficial to them and get them understanding that they’re going to play a lot more minutes.”

Defense continues to shine

Adelman said he continues to see improvement in the team’s defensive sets this season, and the biggest difference he’s noticing is their focus.

“I think the effort is there, the concentration is more each possession,” Adelman said. “We’ve dropped off the last few games with our pick and roll defense. It happens when you don’t practice and you talk a lot about it but today we got a chance to go through it.”

He said the team is bringing an aggressive attitude to the defensive end, playing out full 24 second shot clocks and full possessions with aggression. Not only that, but the team is performing late in games. During the past seven contests—in which Minnesota is 5-2—the Wolves are allowing 24.1 points per game in the fourth quarter and have held three of those opponents to fewer than 20 points in the final frame.

“We’ve been better in the fourth quarter than we have in other quarters,” Adelman said. “That’s what you want to see.”

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