Practice Report: Tuesday, April 24
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The Timberwolves took Monday off to do their own personal workouts before returning to the LifeTime Fitness Training Center on Tuesday for a team practice. The Wolves, coming off a difficult 93-88 loss on Sunday against Golden State, looked to use their three days in between games to clear their heads in preparation for the final matchup of the regular season on Thursday against Denver.
Forward Anthony Tolliver said the team had a refreshing day at practice on Tuesday, spending some time playing guards against bigs in a scrimmage as a way to move forward from Sunday’s loss.
“We couldn’t make a shot down the stretch,” Tolliver said. “It’s pretty frustrating, so we took the day off yesterday and today we had a fun practice just to take our minds off things we were doing wrong.”
Coach Rick Adelman said frustrations took over after the Golden State game, and that the guys need to learn from that loss.
"You have to care enough when you lose like we lost, it has to bother you, really," Adelman said.
Tolliver said heading into the offseason with a win in their final game is important. Facing divisional foe Denver, which is currently trying to hold off Dallas for the sixth seed in the West, Minnesota has an opportunity to knock off the Nuggets and put them in position to face the Thunder, not the Lakers, in the first round of the playoffs.
For the Wolves, being able to end the season with a win is an important step heading into the offseason. Having beaten Detroit on Thursday, Minnesota could end the year winning two of their last three games.
“It’s always important. Not a lot of teams get to finish the season on a win,” Tolliver said. “Even though we’re not in the playoffs, it’d be nice to finish the season on a positive note. We’d be going into next year with a little better taste in our mouths than if we lose another game.”
Pek’s surgery set for May 15
Wolves center Nikola Pekovic said he plans to have offseason surgery to remove bone spurs on his right ankle on May 15 in New York. Pekovic returned April 2 after missing eight of nine games with the discomfort in his ankle.
He said he plans to spend part of his offseason in his native country Montenegro, but he’ll be in the U.S. for his surgery and the three weeks afterwards for his immediate recovery. He said the rest of his offseason will consist of workouts in Montenegro.
Pekovic has played in each of the team’s last 11 games, putting up a career-high 16 rebounds on Sunday and averaging 14.5 points per game during the month of April. That, along with his 17.4 points and 8.5 boards per game in March have boosted him into the conversation for this year’s Most Improved Player Award.
Wolves forward Kevin Love won the award last year.
Pekovic said he’s not thinking about whether or not he’ll win. Instead, he’s trying to focus on what he can do to improve his game further and help the team win.
Still, he said he appreciates the consideration.
“It’s a great feeling in some kind of form,” Pekovic said. “Whatever it is, you know, any award is great.”
Adelman said there aren't many players in the league more qualified for the award. He said Pekovic went from a player one one was talking about to someone that made a huge impact.
"He came out of nowhere and guys don't want to play against him," Adelman said. "When he first came back from injury and had practice time, he seemed to be really observant and knew exactly what we wanted. He went to those strengths. He gets his ankle fixed and works this summer, we're going to see a solid player. At that spot, we feel like we have someone we can really count on."
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