Minnesota's offense -- and frontcourt rotation -- may be starting to take shape.
By JOAN NIESENFS North
MINNEAPOLIS — The
Timberwolves were in good spirits Thursday on the heels of their 95-76 preseason win over the Pistons on Wednesday night. Yes, it was the Pistons, but the game marked the best offensive performance the Timberwolves have put up since Kevin Love's injury -- in fact, it may have been the best of the preseason thus far.
The Timberwolves won the game despite an embarrassing 21-1 Pistons run to open the second half. Minnesota ended the night outrebounding the Pistons, 51-34, and scored 50 points in the paint to Detroit's 28.
"Our offense finally did pretty well last night, when normally our defense is playing great and our offense is terrible," Derrick Williams said. "We played really good last night."
Williams finished the night with 18 points and two rebounds. He went 5-of-12 from the field and 7-of-9 from the free throw line, hardly notable numbers but impressive for a guy who's been struggling with his shooting all preseason.
Williams has not played small forward since Love's injury and has spent his time exclusively at power forward, which coach Rick Adelman said is the second-year player's natural position. Against Detroit, the rotation of Williams at power forward, Andrei Kirilenko largely at small forward and Chase Budinger as the backup small forward functioned ideally; Budinger was the standout player of the night, finishing with a team high 21 points. With five 3-pointers, he gave the team a taste of the long-range shooting that earned him a spot in last year's 3-point shooting contest during All-Star weekend.
The rotation is by no means solidified, though. Adelman said that he hopes to use Kirilenko more at power forward in Friday's last preseason game, a move he's discussed often since Love's injury. It's not that the team will need to rely on him there, but it needs to cover its bases.
"We want to put him in there some just in case we have to do that," Adelman said. "He's got to know, the offense has to know what we're going. We did that a little bit today with him, just trying to make sure he has that feel."
A week off: When the Timberwolves finish Friday night's game against the Bucks in Green Bay, they'll have a full five days of nothing before their season opener on Nov. 2. While that might seem like a good opportunity to get the team in tip-top shape, Williams begs to differ.
"You never want to take that much time off," Williams said. "I think we're rolling right now . . . You never want to take a week off like that and just watch games."
Hummel healing: According to a tweet from CBS Sports' Jeff Goodman, Timberwolves' second-round draft pick Robbie Hummel will make his debut in Spain in two to three weeks. Hummel had surgery to repair a torn meniscus in September.
Hummel is playing with Obradoiro CAB in Spain this season. Ohio State's William Buford, who was with Hummel and the Timberwolves at summer league in Las Vegas in July, is also on the team.
NBA Board of Governors meetings: The NBA Board of Governors met Thursday in New York. Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor was replaced as the chairman of the Board of Governors by Spurs CEO Peter Holt. Taylor has held the position since 2008, and the move makes sense after Taylor announced he is looking for a partner to phase into the role of majority owner of the team in the next few years.
In other retirement news, commissioner David Stern's exit transition is also being discussed in New York. Stern will step down on Feb. 1, 2014, the 30th anniversary of holding the position. The Board of Governors selected deputy commissioner Adam Silver will replace him.
Stern also said that he'll be available in some capacity to the league after his retirement, especially pertaining to anything it tries to do overseas. Stern has made a name for himself as an international-focused commissioner, promoting the game overseas and even advocating the possibility of expanding the league to Europe.