As the Wolves were preparing to board a plane for Denver Friday coach Rick Adelman pulled forward Mickael Gelabale aside.
Adelman’s message: Time to get more aggressive.
Since signing his first 10-day contract with the team on Jan. 19, Gelabale — who had been playing in Europe — has been a competent addition to the injury-plagued Wolves. But given how extreme that injury situation has become — Gelabale started his fifth consecutive game Sunday against Dallas in place of the injured Andrei Kirilenko — Adelman decided he needed more.
“We talked to him about being more aggressive,” Adelman said. “I think he was just trying to fit it in. But we need him to make shots. He can make shots. He’s got ability, and we need him.”
Gelabale said the advice was liberating. And he responded by registering season highs in points (19, on 8-for-10 shooting) and assists (three) against the Nuggets on Saturday. He followed with a 6-for-10, 13-point game Sunday against Dallas. “It’s not easy for me to come in and fit in,” said Gelabale, who signed a second 10-day contract on Jan. 29 before signing for the rest of the season Feb. 8. “I try to do what they ask me to do. Coach asked me to be more aggressive and I’m doing my best.”
Gelabale’s ultimate goal, of course, is to play well enough to earn a permanent return to the NBA.
Wolves guard Ricky Rubio had a visitor at Saturday’s game in Denver. Dr. Richard Steadman, who performed reconstructive surgery on Rubio’s left knee a year ago, attended the game and met with Rubio afterward. It was a social rather than medical visit. Steadman is based in Vail, Colo., only a 97-mile drive from Denver. Rubio left him tickets.
“Because it is so close, just two hours,” Rubio said.
So how did Steadman think his former patient looked?
“He said I looked good,” Rubio said.
Center Nikola Pekovic (abdominal strain) and Kirilenko (strained left calf) sat out again Sunday, Pekovic for the fifth consecutive game, Kirilenko for the sixth. Both could return later this week, though probably not by Tuesday’s game with San Antonio.
Pekovic said he is not feeling pain any longer, but he has not yet been cleared to start running. He hopes to get that clearance Monday.
Kirilenko appears closer to returning, saying it will be a game-time decision Tuesday. “Just a couple days away,” he said. “I’ve started running a little bit. The problem is I need to get that explosion back. As soon as I feel that, I’ll be back.”
• Adelman on the scheduling quirk that led to the brutal back-to-back that ended Sunday. The Wolves played in Denver, had a 1½-hour delay at the airport for the plane to be de-iced, then had to play at 6 p.m. Sunday after losing an hour to Daylight Savings Time. “You look at the schedule at the start of the year,” said Adelman, who got back to his home at 4:30 Sunday morning. “I didn’t know it was Daylight Saving Time, and I certainly didn’t like the idea of going to Denver, losing an hour and coming home and playing an early game. I don’t think you should put yourself in that position.”
• Adelman was surprised Denver coach George Karl wasn’t ejected from Saturday’s game when he went onto the court to protest a call in the third quarter, requiring his assistants to restrain him. “That really shocked me,” he said.