Shootaround Access: Wolves vs. Clippers

Alex Conover
Web Editorial Associate

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Although star point guard Chris Paul is sitting out tonight with a knee bruise, the Wolves must remain prepared for Eric Bledsoe, a talented guard in his own right.

“Bledsoe’s a good player, man,” Derrick Williams said at shootaround. “He could start on a few teams in the NBA, being behind Chris Paul, he’s learned so much from him. Being a leader that [Paul] is, he’s there with them even when he’s hurt.”

Despite some uncertainty at point, what remains unchanged for the Clippers is the presence of a pair of bruisers in the front court with DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin.

“Those two guys are tough,” Williams said of Jordan and Griffin. “They are really athletic and they rule the paint every single game. So it’s going to be tough on us to stop them, hopefully with Pek back we can do that.”

And beyond the first rotation of players, Los Angeles continues to put talent out onto the floor. Their second set—led by highly effective sixth man Jamal Crawford—helps make the Clippers one of the deepest teams in the league.

“They’re still a great team," Williams added. "They’re deep, they play hard, we just have to come out in those first couple minutes and make a statement about how the game’s going to go. We’ve got to put a lot of pressure on them early.”

Pek talks return to court

Tonight’s game against the Clippers will mark the return of not only coach Rick Adelman, but players Alexey Shved and Nikola Pekovic as well. For a team that has suffered through multiple injuries throughout the year, it’s something that the players are almost accustomed to.

“I wish we had everyone since the first game, but things happen,” J.J. Barea said. “We’re happy to have Pek back and Alexey back and Coach back, so we’ll go from there.”

Pekovic, who is returning from a right thigh contusion, is looking forward to getting some playing time and getting back into game shape.

“I’m still not 100 percent,” Pekovic said. “But I will be playing the next few days, I just need a couple days to pick up my conditioning. You can run, you can do whatever, but that’s not the same conditioning as during the game. I’ll be fine.”

After sitting out for five games, Pekovic is focused on doing what he can to help the Wolves break out of their current slump.

“I do so many treatments and everything else, I’ve been really bored just sitting on the side,” Pekovic added. “I see these guys fighting, playing hard and losing these games, close games. I was really ready to come back and I will try to help them as much as I can.”

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