MINNEAPOLIS — Shabazz Muhammad cussing, A.J. Price raining down 3-pointers, Gorgui Dieng swatting shots.
For Ronny Turiaf, delight.
Bumping shoulders Monday with a mix of reserves and fellow injured rotation man Chase Budinger, Turiaf tested his right elbow in a contact situation for the first time since hitting the floor hard in the Timberwolves’ second game of the season. The resulting radial head fracture has kept him out of 28 games.
After shootaround at the team’s Lifetime Fitness center practice facility, Turiaf teamed up with Budinger and Muhammad in a lively game of 3-on-3. Then he talked to reporters for the first time in weeks, a smile on his face and hope in his low, Caribbean-accented voice.
"It was really satisfying to just get out there and just be with the guys and just get some live action a little bit," Turiaf said. "It’s been a tough process, so it felt pretty good being out there today."
Initially, it appeared the injury — the result of a mid-air collision with the Thunder’s Nick Collison — wouldn’t keep Turiaf out very long. But on the weeks have dragged, and coach Rick Adelman has yet to indicate his No. 2 center has made much progress.
It’s been tough, Turiaf said. But a guy who had open-heart surgery before he ever played an NBA game has been through worse.
"A little broken radial head, however you want to say it, it’s nothing too frustrating," said Turiaf, signed in the offseason to back up starting center Nikola Pekovic. "The only frustrating part out of the whole equation is not being able to be out there with my teammates. That’s the frustrating part.
"It’s just not being with the guys. You guys know me. I’m a lively kind of guy. Just want to be out and have some fun and go out and compete."
The elbow was still sore Monday, judging by Turiaf’s grimaces following a couple of collisions with Dieng. Adelman said Turiaf hasn’t been cleared for full-contact practice yet — only 3-on-3.
"Just the fact that he’s going out there and playing, that’s a good thing," Adelman said.
No timetable for Turiaf’s return has been released.
The same goes for Budinger, who hasn’t played yet this season due to a second meniscus surgery in his left knee. He, too, was thrilled to play some live-action 3-on-3, though full-on practices are where he stands to make the most strides toward returning.
Minnesota has had only one of those — Thursday — since the team returned from a three-day Christmas break last week. Budinger was cleared for full-contact practice Dec. 18.
"I’m very anxious," Budinger said. "That’s the type of stuff that I need that really shows how my body feels, how I recover from those type of practices and how it’s going to be after a game. That’s what I’m trying to work towards right now."
Both Budinger and Turiaf are listed as out for Monday night’s game against Dallas.
Martin back ‘on track’: It looks more and more like one game of rest did Kevin Martin some good.
In five games since missing the Timberwolves’ Dec. 16 matchup with Boston, the veteran shooting guard is scoring 16.8 points per game, shooting 42.7 percent from the field and, more importantly, feeling "fine," he said. A sore left knee had hampered him previously, most notably in a 1-for-9, five-point showing against Philadelphia and a scoreless outing at Memphis.
"I just know what’s best for the team is to be efficient, play defense," Martin said Monday, two days after scoring 20 points and hitting four 3s at Milwaukee. "That’s all I have to do here. As long as we keep on winning, I feel like I’m on track."
One key for Martin, he said, is getting to the foul stripe. He ranks sixth in the NBA in free-throw percentage (91.9) and ninth among guards with 151 free throws attempted.
It’s an art the 10th-year pro has perfected — leaning into a defender before shooting or sensing contact and throwing up an off-balance prayer in hopes of drawing a continuation foul.
More often than not, it works. Saturday’s victory over the Bucks was just the second time all season Martin hasn’t been to the line.
"That’s just always been my game," Martin said. "Year 10, I’m not gonna try anything I can’t do."
Dirk, the model: The last time Dallas was here, Kevin Love stepped back and nailed an off-balance, one-legged jump shot, channeling his inner Dirk Nowitzki in a win against the Mavericks.
It was by no small coincidence, Love said Monday. Who doesn’t want a nearly unblockable mid-range jumper?
"When you’re off balance like that having to put a little bit more arc on it, it’s a tough shot," Love said. "Dirk has spent many, many thousands of hours on that shot. I don’t know if it’s ever going to be quite like someone like Dirk, 7-foot tall, shooting that shot again. But I try to pick apart different people’s games, and Dirk is one of them with the way he shoots it."
Love tried it Saturday against the Bucks on his first field-goal attempt of the game. It didn’t go in, but he said it felt good.
It’s probably not a bad idea to try and imitate the NBA’s No. 13 all-time scorer. It’s also not easy, said Martin, who possesses some pretty unorthodox shooting techniques of his own.
"He’s definitely patented that move over the years," Martin said. "(Love) has it in him, but he’d have to grow about five more inches for nobody to block it. But they’re two great players with two great shots."