MINNEAPOLIS – After a week in Mankato and a racquetball tournament that kept them out of their practice facility over the weekend, the Timberwolves returned to their normal venue on Monday in their second-to-last practice before heading to Fargo, N.D. to face the Pacers on Wednesday.
Monday’s practice concluded with Derrick Williams running laps up and down the court, the result of his team losing a scrimmage and a rather unfortunate decision. Coach Rick Adelman offered players on the losing end the chance to shoot a 3-pointer to go double-or-nothing on their six-lap punishment, and Williams took a chance. He missed the shot and ended up with 12 back-and-forth laps down the court, rather than six.
“If it’s one or two, take a shot at it,” Adelman said, laughing. “But not six.”
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Other than that, though, Adelman said that Williams has carried his early success from Mankato through the first week of practice. He’s been consistent, which is a marked improvement from last season, and he’ll get a chance for plenty of minutes in the preseason to see if what he’s been showing can carry over to games.
Alexey Shved will also see significant minutes, and perhaps more at point guard than he otherwise would have. He’s been playing more at the point for the past two practices because Luke Ridnour has been out with a sore back. Adelman would not speak to Ridnour’s status for Wednesday’s game, but his absence would be both an opportunity and a challenge for Shved.
Is there snow in Fargo?: There was last week, and the Timberwolves are already bracing themselves for the cold. Kevin Love said that he never likes having to play what’s technically a home game on the road, but that he knows the team needs to reach multiple markets. Beyond that, he had just one question: Is there already snow?
Adelman said that he’s unsure right now whether Ricky Rubio will travel with the team for Wednesday’s game. They haven’t decided yet whether it would be smarter for him to rehab in Minneapolis or go along for the trip. After explaining this at Monday’s practice, Adelman paused for effect, a joke brewing.
“I guess he could ice down there,” Adelman quipped.
Playing without Ricky: Wednesday’s preseason game will be the Timberwolves’ first test this season without Rubio, and they’re determined that his absence will have a different effect than it did last spring, when the team proved nearly incapable of winning without the point guard. They’re of course anxious to get him back, but with so many more ball handlers this year than last, they’re hoping that his absence won’t be the debilitating disaster that it was before.
“We can’t be the team that’s saying, ‘Oh, man, when we get Ricky back, we’re really going to hit our stride,'” Love said. “I think from the get-go if we continue to get better everyday, we’re going to hit our stride from day one.”