NEW ORLEANS — The Timberwolves are down to nine healthy players for Friday’s game; Lazar Hayward is ill, and J.J. Barea remains in Dallas, where he went to see a doctor about his back problems. The soonest he will join the team is for its Sunday game in San Antonio.
Coach Rick Adelman also remains away from the team with his ailing wife. Earlier Friday, there was a chance that he might meet his team in San Antonio, where it plays Sunday, but before Friday’s game, assistant coach Terry Porter said that now it’s looking like Dallas on Monday might be the first feasible date for the coach to arrive. Porter, who has coached the team to a 1-1 record while filling in since Monday, will continue to be in charge as his team remains in flux with ever more injuries.
“A lot of unknowns for our team right now,” Porter said. “A lot of day-to-day things.”
In Oklahoma City on Wednesday, the team had only 10 players and was on the second night of a back-to-back, which made for late-game exhaustion and some strange lineups, Porter said. Alexey Shved played 39 minutes, Dante Cunningham 33. Porter said he hasn’t put in too many changes to Adelman’s system in his brief time in charge, except perhaps those to deal with the team’s lack of personnel.
“It’s a fine line trying to win games and also understand the importance of not trying to run guys into the ground and having some more breakdowns,” Porter said of his current task.
“They’re young, and it’s just one of those things where it’s a lot of games, a lot of minutes. Most of the time, they can respond and come back off those situations.”
The Hornets are in almost the opposite situation: They finally have injured players such as Eric Gordon back, and they’re on a three-game winning streak. However, coach Monty Williams wasn’t quick to take the bait about the advantage he might have with his full bench over the Timberwolves’ four-person one.
Porter elsewhere in the news: Before Friday’s Celtics-Rockets game, Kevin Garnett addressed the media pregame for the first time in almost two decades. When asked why he made it a policy to never speak before games, Garnett said that in 1995, Porter, who was his teammate on the Timberwolves, told him not to after he played poorly one night after doing so.
Post back-to-back Ricky: Ricky Rubio played in his first back-to-back Tuesday and Wednesday, logging eight assists in the first game and seven in the second, and he did so without suffering a setback.
“It felt normal, like tired from a back-to-back, but nothing at all on the knee, so that’s a good sign,” Rubio said.
Although Porter wouldn’t speak to Rubio’s minutes limitation lifting – “That’s above my pay grade,” he joked – Rubio said he hopes it will end soon. He played 22 minutes Wednesday night, which will likely remain the status quo on Friday, but he said he plans to meet with doctors to discuss the end of the limitation.
Porter said there haven’t been discussions regarding Rubio’s return to the starting lineup, and they likely won’t come until the minutes limitation is lifted.
Rubio also discussed the need to look for his shot more. After not attempting a single shot besides free throws Tuesday, he went 0-of-3 from the field Wednesday night, and he needs to continue looking a bit to score, he said. With Love out and Barea also sitting for at least the next game, the team has lost a good chunk of its scoring and will need to look even to Rubio for points. Rubio said he needs to adjust his mindset and get over his injury-related fear of driving to the basket.
Kevin Love’s surgery: No word yet on Love’s hand surgery. The team is still working to schedule it based on the doctor’s availability.