Shootaround Access: Wolves vs. Suns | Jan. 8, 2014

Shootaround Access: Wolves vs. Suns | Jan. 8, 2014


Timberwolves vs. Suns | 8:30 PM — Target Center

Where to Watch: Fox Sports North, ESPN

Where to Listen: 830 WCCO-AM

View Timberwolves Game Notes

Perhaps the best thing about Ronny Turiaf’s game, is that nothing about it is forced. In fact, his game is a lot like his personality.

That was evident again at Wednesday’s shootaround as the Timberwolves prepared to host the Phoenix Suns at 8:30 p.m.

Turiaf suffered an elbow fracture on Nov. 1 and returned for the first time on Monday, helping the Wolves beat the Philadelphia 76ers. If his play didn’t show he was itching to play (9 rebounds in less than 23 minutes of play), a dance he pulled on the sideline certainly did. His presence on this team helps the energy, but Turiaf says that isn’t necessarily his goal.

“My goal is to just be me,” Turiaf said. “… This is not me trying to do something for the guys… I’m just myself. I just can’t help that I enjoy my life, I enjoy what I do, I’m having fun out there, this is something that I enjoy doing. I’m not going to be playing basketball for that much longer so for me, all of those moments, I cherish those moments so.”

Minnesota’s bench has been a bit of a roller coaster this season, but with the return of Turiaf and wingman Chase Budinger looking like he’ll be back any day now, the second unit could go from shorthanded to perhaps one of the most impressive second units in the Western Conference.

Strong bench play will be necessary tonight as the Wolves play a very intense Suns team led by point guard Goran Dragic. Dragic is a crafty point guard that isn’t afraid to push the tempo. The Suns are shooting 45.9 percent from the field this season, the eighth best mark in the league. They are also putting up 103.2 points per game, which ranks ninth. For those wondering, the Wolves are averaging 107.4 points per game, trailing just the Blazers for most points per game.

Turiaf’s presence on the bench tells us that the Wolves starters should get a breather or two. None of the team’s starters played more than 30 minutes on Monday night. The last time that’s happened? On Nov. 1 against the Oklahoma City Thunder — Turiaf’s last game.

“He’s a great guy coming from the bench with a lot of energy,” said point guard Ricky Rubio. “Just having him back on the bench is great. On the court he just does his thing. Ronny is aggressive, an energy guy and helps everyone.”

Quick Hits

  • With a win tonight, the Wolves would move to 18-17. Or in other words, above .500. That’s a mark the Wolves haven’t been at since Nov. 23, when the team was 8-7. The Wolves have had the opportunity to get over that .500 hump six times this season, but have been unsuccessful thus far. Love doesn’t think that there’s a mental factor, though.

    “No, no mental block or curse or anything like that,” Love said. “It’s just something we need to get over and you know I think that we will. I think it’s just circumstance, and some cases being unlucky and sometimes not playing so well. But we just need some consistency out there I guess.”

  • The deadline for contracts to be guaranteed for players was Tuesday afternoon. The only two players that this applied to for the Wolves were Robbie Hummel and A.J. Price. Both players made the cut, and it’s been well deserved. Hummel has become a surprising role player off Minnesota’s bench, while Price has been a great locker room guy.

    “He's great in practice. He's a great locker room guy,” Hummel said of Price. “I think everybody is excited that he's still with the team, and I think he'll be able to contribute down the road whether it's with an injury or that's in practice. He's definitely gonna give the team something.”

    For some reason, we think the team is pretty glad to have Hummel around as well. Hummel is averaging 1.6 3-pointers per 36 minutes, ranking fifth on the team.

  • A quick reminder that this game has been moved back from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. due to ESPN scheduling the game as part of its NBA Wednesday night package. The game will be aired on ESPN, Fox Sports North and WCCO 830-AM.

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