Shootaround Access: Wolves vs. Pelicans | Jan. 29, 2014

Shootaround Access: Wolves vs. Pelicans | Jan. 29, 2014

Timberwolves vs. Pelicans | 7:00 PM — Target Center

Where to Watch: Fox Sports North

Where to Listen: 830 WCCO-AM

View Timberwolves Game Notes

Ronny Turiaf and Gorgui Dieng will be in the spotlight tonight while the two replace Nikola Pekovic against the New Orleans Pelicans.

The Wolves announced that Pekovic underwent an MRI on Tuesday morning that revealed bursitis in his right ankle. Pekovic will be withheld from basketball activities for 7-10 days and will be reevaluated at that time. He will be sidelined indefinitely.

Enter Turiaf and Dieng.

For Turiaf, it’s another chance for him to prove why he’s been in the league for nine seasons. He helped prove that during Tuesday night’s win over the Chicago Bulls, scoring a season-high 14 points to go with seven rebounds and three blocks. It was also his best game since Jan. 11, 2011 when he put up 19 points and 10 rebounds as a member of the New York Knicks.

The biggest issue for Turiaf might not be the game action, but the length of it. Turiaf missed 31 games earlier this season due to a fracture elbow and in the 13 games he’s played, he’s played more than 20 in just three of them.

“I've got to be ready for it, you know? Flip was making fun of me in the locker room a couple days ago — I'll tell you that story — he was like 'Ronny, I guess now that you miss 30 games, now your legs are fresh, so you should be ready to go for a couple more minutes.' I was like 'Flip, you know what?' That sounds like a pretty good idea, a pretty good thing,” Turiaf said. “So I guess that I'm going to have to change my mindset a little bit and be ready earlier and just, I guess, be ready to guard some other guys.”

Turiaf won’t wow anyone offensively, but he proved on Tuesday that he can do enough to hold his own. Most of his contributions come on the defensive end and through his leadership on and off the court.

“It's one of those things that, it might sound cliché or whatever, but whatever Coach asks me to do, I try to do,” Turiaf said. “That's why I've lasted so long, that's why I've played on so many playoff teams in the past and over my life. If I'm asked to be a scorer, I will score. If I'm asked to be defender, I'll be a defender. If I'm asked to be the guy that's taking care of everybody behind the scenes, I do that. So it's fun.”

For Dieng, it’s the first major opportunity the rookie center has gotten all season. And if his teammates are telling the truth, it’s an opportunity that he’s prepared for all season. He echoed those sentiments, being the last player at Wednesday morning’s shootaround, working on his midrange jumpers with assistant coach Jack Sickma.

“I’m not the one who tells me how many minutes I’m going to play, but I can control how hard I practice and how hard I work,” Dieng said. “I think I’ll be ready to anything I can to help this basketball team win.”

Dieng told reporters that the thing that he’s improved on most this season is his patience. He said earlier in the season when he got into games, he would try so hard to make an impact, that he often got ahead of himself.

One major aspect of Dieng’s game that he will want to improve is lowering his fouling percentage. Dieng has appeared in 25 games for the Wolves this season, and has committed 32 fouls. If Dieng played 36 minutes, he’d be projected to commit 8.5 fouls. In a league that allows just six per game, that’s not ideal.

Turiaf and Dieng share a strong bond on and off the court. As soon as Turiaf signed with Minnesota, he took Dieng under his wing. Turiaf said that he hadn’t talked to Dieng about his big opportunity on Wednesday night yet, though.

“Yesterday or today? No. Nothing different than in the past,” Turiaf said. “It's one of those things that guys come down with injuries and illnesses and unfortunate events, and the other guys in line have to step up. I know for a fact that my main man over here is waiting for that opportunity. He's put in the work. I can tell you that.”

Quick Hits

  • It was the first time that power forward Kevin Love met with Minneapolis media members since being named a Western Conference All-Star starter. He wanted to thank Minnesota fans for the votes and credited the Target Center to being the team’s “Sixth Man.”

  • spoke with Wolves assistant coach Jack Sikma about his time with the Seattle SuperSonics and their 1979 championship run as the city of Seattle gets set for the Seahawks' Super Bowl appearance this weekend. Great stuff from Jack, who still calls Seattle home and fully identifies with the city's 12th Man persona. Check out that feature and video on Sunday at

  • Pekovic made an appearance at shootaround. When media availability started, Pekovic headed to the locker room with a boot on his right foot.

  • The Wolves host the Pelicans tonight at 7 p.m. The game will be aired on Fox Sports North and WCCO 830-AM.

  • For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Timberwolves and Mark Remme on Twitter.