Practice Report: Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2013

by Mark Remme
Web Editor

Alex Conover
Web Editorial Associate

Email / Twitter

Although last night’s tough loss still might be on Minnesota’s mind, the Wolves have to look ahead to the Spurs, a veteran club that comes to Target Center tomorrow night.

The Spurs might be the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference, but they could play tomorrow’s game without stars Manu Ginobili or Tim Duncan. According to the Wolves, however, they will still be a very tough opponent.

“They’re going to play the same power basketball they always play,” center Nikola Pekovic said. “The most important thing is what we’re going to do... we need to play like we were three nights ago. If we play hard, then many things can happen. If we let them do whatever they want like we did last night, it’s going to be a real big problem for us.”

Ricky Rubio said that he noticed San Antonio’s efficient style during last year’s playoffs, and he compared the international presence there to Minnesota’s own.

“Last year in playoffs, the first two games in the final conference was amazing basketball,” Rubio commented. “I fell in love with that basketball. I think Gregg is a great coach, he knows how to run players, they are kind of international like us. They know how to play basketball.”

Tony Parker and Ginobili helped pave the way for Rubio, as all three are foreign guards that have brought a different, international style to the American game.

“They’ve been in the league for a long time, but they have played in Europe too,” Rubio said. “Those are two players I admire a lot. They understand basketball. Sometimes you can be good, but if you understand basketball, that makes it even more fun to watch.”

Questions and Concerns

The difference between the Timberwolves in Saturday’s win and Monday’s loss was monumental. Local media couldn’t help but wonder, what is it going to take for this team to figure out who they are?

“We just need to find our strength, because it’s only about us,” Pekovic said. “Nobody can help us. Like I said last night and the night before, we just need to play hard from the very beginning. We are missing some guys, we have problems with injuries, but if we play really hard, we will win some games.”

Pekovic also mentioned physicality as something that is crucial to Minnesota’s success. Last night’s loss came at the hands of a Portland team that had a strong (literally) frontcourt in LaMarcus Aldridge and J.J. Hickson, strong enough where thinner players like Greg Stiemsma and Chris Johnson saw little to no minutes because of matchup issues.

“When we play physical, we don’t let teams do whatever they want,” Pekovic added. “Last night we let the Portland guys have easy shots. In the last 10 minutes, you could tell. We were really playing hard and physical. We were really trying to play hard, and it paid off. We didn’t win the game, but we had a chance to win the game.”

Another hot topic from yesterday was the Wolves’ final shot. With less than 30 seconds left and a chance to tie, Rubio raced around the rim a couple times and ended up shooting a hurried fadeaway that was contested by Aldridge. The Wolves got the ball back, only to see Dante Cunningham miss in the final seconds.

So who is the go-to shooter in those final seconds for Minnesota? Is there a clear-cut option right now?

“Of course we’re missing Kevin Love,” Rubio said. “He is our leader, and he is the guy who takes good shots. But he is not here, so we have to step up. Yesterday I think we ran a good play, and we didn’t make it. We were playing pick-and-roll in fourth quarter, and it worked a lot. We have to keep improving.

“I was looking for my shot first and then a pass, and i think I had time to get back and find another play. But, you know, it was my mistake.”

For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Timberwolves and Mark Remme on Twitter, and join the conversation at