Practice Report: Thursday, February 16
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The Timberwolves left Thursday’s practice knowing that have an important four games ahead of them. Beginning in Houston on Friday and extending to All-Star Weekend on Feb. 23-26, the Timberwolves have an opportunity to move back toward the .500 mark and provide a spark heading into the second half.
Easier said than done, but the Wolves understand the importance of picking up key victories against some difficult opponents over the next week. Minnesota faces the Rockets (17-13) for the fourth and final time on Friday, hosts Philadelphia (20-10) on Sunday, travels to Denver (17-3) on Monday and finishes up the first half at home against Utah (14-14) on Wednesday.
“We have tough games—this stretch is hard,” coach Rick Adelman said. “We’re going to find out who we are.”
The Wolves got back on track with a 102-90 win over Charlotte on Wednesday, and during their practice time this week Adelman said the team has done more mental work. The purpose is to walk through and visualize situations to help minimize turnovers—which dropped to 13 against the Bobcats—as well as provide some rest to the players’ bodies during this fast paced season.
It worked against Charlotte, as Minnesota played a strong second half and did not waver in the fourth. They took a 10-point lead into the final frame and extended the advantage to as many as 19 with 7:16 to play.
“One thing about our team is it seems like we always get into the games,” Adelman said. “But we have to finish them now. It’s going to be tough. Houston’s going to be ready for us; we’ve beat them twice in a row. And then it gets tough. Philadelphia’s a good team, then out to Denver and then here against Utah. To finish positive before the All-Star Break we’re going to have to play well, and I think our guys, they understand what they have to do.”
Forward Kevin Love said ending the first half strong would be a big step for the Wolves.
“As far as the learning curve, just giving ourselves a chance to win and figure out how to win at the end of games has been a lot better season for us since Day 1,” Love said. “We’ve changed the landscape of this team.”
No question, he was thrilled to get the opportunity.
“It’s a real honor,” Williams said. “All the people who have won it so far, I’m just trying to be one of those guys who can win it.”
Williams said he remembers watching Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady battle for the dunk championship. In order to win this year, he’ll need to beat New York’s Iman Shumpert, Indiana’s Paul George and Houston’s Chase Budinger.
Williams said his next task is to map out a strategy, which could include fellow rookie Ricky Rubio. Williams said all the alley-oops Rubio fed him during the first half of the season played a big role in his selection, and he’d like the chance to include Rubio.
Plus, with this year’s format being three dunks and fans voting on the winner, Williams said Rubio could help sway the results.
“Hopefully he can help me out, and I can get fan votes that way,” Williams joked. “Everybody loves Ricky.”
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