Practice Report | January 12, 2015

Editor's Note: Web Editor Kyle Ratke and Web Editorial Associate Dane Mizutani contributed to this report.

The main question regarding the Minnesota Timberwolves over the last month and change has been, “When are they coming back?”

That question is revolving around Ricky Rubio (ankle), Nikola Pekovic (wrist and ankle) and Kevin Martin (ankle).

We got a bit closer to answering that question as Pekovic and Martin were full participants in Monday’s practice, while Rubio took part in non-contact drills.

“Both Pekovic and Martin practiced full-go, for an hour and 45 minutes,” said head coach Flip Saunders after practice. “Ricky did all that stuff at practice, but he didn’t do any contact type stuff. So, that was a positive.”

There is still no time-table on when these players will return. Saunders said for sure, though, that it won’t be tomorrow as the Wolves try to snap their 15-game losing streak against the Pacers in Indiana.

“We’re not going to take any gambles on them,” Saunders said. “We’re going to let them come back. We want them to get some practices.”

The main thing for both Pekovic and Martin is to get into game shape. While the players have been working with the trainers and medical staff throughout the process, it’s tough to get into basketball shape without actually playing basketball.

“That’s why I try to kind of go through all of this stuff today and really… just try to get the feeling back,” Pekovic said on preparing for a game. “ I was doing workouts…  You can do whatever, but it’s totally different when the game comes.”

Saunders said just by having Martin and Pekovic on the court, the Wolves were a totally different (in a good way) team.

“We were a different team today on the floor,” Saunders said. “If you came to watch us all the sudden, we were a totally different team. How we looked, how we performed, the young guys looked good. It was like night and day.”

And Now With Some Bad News…

While it appears Pekovic and Martin are fairly close to returning from injury, and with Rubio participating in non-contact drills at practice on Monday afternoon and on track to return sooner rather than later, Saunders announced that Shabazz Muhammad will miss at least a couple weeks with an outer oblique strain. He will be reevaluated in two weeks.

So it goes for the Wolves this season — a season in which the team has grow familiar to dealing with injuries.

“It kind of is what it is,” Saunders said.

Muhammad has been arguably the best player on the team this season, serving as a spark-plug off the bench to at the beginning of the season, and transitioning to a starter as the season wore on.  He’s averaging 13.7 points and 4.0 rebounds per game and has provided a handful of other energy plays that go beyond the stat sheet.

Now he’s out.

“We’ll kind of see,” Saunders said. “It could change. … That said, with abdominal strains, those things can be pretty delicate and we don’t want those things to turn into something more serious. That’s kind of where we’re at.”

His absence certainly won’t help a team currently in the midst of a 15-game losing streak. A game against Indiana serves as a prime opportunity to snap the losing streak, though that challenge got a little more difficult with Muhammad out.

“It’s frustrating … because losing is tough. It’s for players, fans, coaches, everyone,” Saunders said. “That’s part of what the league is about. A difference from our perspective is that we’re looking down into the future. These young guys are getting a lot of playing time and we might not reap the benefits this year. … We’re going to reap the benefits down the road.”

Quick Hits

  • Center Gorgui Dieng missed today’s practice due to a sore throat that has bothered him for the last few days.
  • Robbie Hummel, who had a nice tip-dunk in Saturday’s game against the San Antonio Spurs, doesn’t think the NBA Slam Dunk committee will be giving him a call anytime soon: “I think we’ll leave that to Zach and Wigs. It’s good to get one every once in a while. I think that’s more timing than verticality.”
  • The Wolves face off against the Pacers tomorrow night at 6 p.m. The game will air on Fox Sports North and WCCO-830 AM.