MINNEAPOLIS — Usually-jovial Ronny Turiaf left practice looking a little gloomy Saturday afternoon, his right arm in a sling and tucked inside his Timberwolves hooded sweatshirt.
The reserve center suffered a radial head fracture in his right elbow Friday during Minnesota’s victory over Oklahoma City and is out until further notice. An MRI performed Saturday morning revealed the damage, and he’ll be reevaluated next week.
Turiaf’s injury doesn’t appear serious. But it’s still a bummer when an emotional leader takes a tumble, forward Corey Brewer said.
“It was tough, just because he brings that spirit to the game,” Brewer said. “He’s always upbeat. He keeps us going.”
Those that didn’t see all 6-foot-10, 241 pounds of Turiaf hit the floor hard after colliding with Thunder forward Nick Collison heard the impact Friday. The two were going up for a rebound, and Collison’s momentum knocked Turiaf out of midair with 10:17 left in the second quarter.
After lying on his back for a brief moment, Turiaf got up under his own power and was escorted to the locker room. He didn’t return.
According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, minor radial head fractures can be treated by splinting for one or two weeks. More serious incidents require surgery. The team hopes to announce a timetable sometime in the next week.
He’ll be missed, coach Rick Adelman said.
“Ronny was just playing so well,” Adelman said of Turiaf, who was not made available to the media Saturday. “It’s unfortunate. I’m glad it’s not anything serious, because he’s really done a nice job for us. He’s got experience. He could be on the court, and you look at the stat sheet and say, ‘oh, he didn’t do much,’ but he does a lot.”
Turiaf had only been on the floor for 3:07 when he went down. In the Timberwolves’ opener against Orlando, he played 15:30 and had three rebounds, a block, and a 3-point play in the post.
In Turiaf’s place, rookie center Gorgui Dieng will receive more minutes. Kevin Love will also shift to the five spot at times, creating time for Dante Cunningham and Derrick Williams at power forward.
But Adelman doesn’t want Love playing out of position too much.
“I don’t want to do it as a consistent thing,” Adelman said. “I like doing it at the end of a game. It forces (the opponent’s) hand. Plus, you don’t want him playing against guys that are gonna attack him in the post. That’s not his strong suit.”
That means Dieng, who was drafted 21st overall to fill the same interior defensive role as Turiaf, has an opportunity. The 6-11, 238-pound Louisville product made his NBA debut when Turiaf went down.
He didn’t do much other than pick up four personal fouls in 14 minutes, 25 seconds of action, but Adelman’s confident Dieng can spell Nikola Pekovic effectively.
“G, he was a little nervous last night,” Adelman said, “but he’s played, and he’s done a decent job. I think the more he plays, the better he’ll be.”
Dieng admitted the moment got to him a little bit when he checked in Saturday. Now that that’s out of the way, he can focus on maintaining better defensive position and facilitating within Adelman’s offense when called upon.
His next try comes Sunday against the Knicks inside Madison Square Garden, where Dieng played in three Big East tournaments and lost only once.
“It was completely different; I’d never seen that before,” Dieng said of his first NBA minutes. “I’m glad I experienced it. Now I understand how it is.”
Brewer prepares for Anthony, Knicks: Corey Brewer helped hold Thunder star Kevin Durant to his lowest point total since 2011 on Friday. Two days later, he’ll be charged with mitigating the damage done by another premier swingman.
But Carmelo Anthony is a different monster.
“He’s probably the most powerful wing in the league,” Brewer said. “Melo’s a strong guy.”
And Anthony, the NBA’s leading per-game scorer last year, uses that strength to attack the rim. He’s quick enough to thwart double-teams — the strategy Minnesota used to bottle Durant — by slicing once a helpless defender slides his way.
So Brewer, Cunningham and perhaps Williams will try to deny Anthony the ball more frequently.
“Just like guarding KD, you’ve got to make him work for everything he gets,” Brewer said. “But Melo’s gonna go to the block more. It’ll be more of the same, just more fronting, probably.”
Through two games, Anthony has 41 points on 37.5 percent shooting. Standing 6-foot-8 and checking in at 240 pounds, he outweighs Brewer by 52 pounds.
But Brewer’s hope is to wear him down in transition as well as limit his good looks at the basket.
“It’s gonna be a battle,” Brewer said, “but I’ll use all this little 188 pounds I’ve got.”
The Timberwolves (2-0) and Knicks (1-1) tip off at 6:30 p.m. on FOX Sports North PLUS.