LOS ANGELES – Timberwolves veteran forward Corey Brewer shot 13 percent from the field in three games last week, and he’s not exactly sure offense has been the worst part of a slump he says he needs to snap out of, and soon.
“I’ve just got to get better,” said Brewer, a free-agent signee last summer who made three of 22 shots last week. “I’ve got to play with more energy. I’ve just got to be me. I’ve been playing bad lately. Sometimes you have days like that, but I’ve been having weeks like that. Playing with energy is usually consistent, but when you’re playing as bad as I’m playing right now, nothing is really consistent.”
Brewer dismissed the idea that playing starter’s minutes against the opponent’s best perimeter player is taking its toll after he came off the bench last season for 57-victory Denver. He did say he is adjusting to not being asked to score, like he was so asked with the Nuggets.
“I’m a little different role, but I don’t mind the role,” he said before Sunday’s game against the Clippers in Los Angeles, when he scored three points on 1-for-5 shooting in the 120-116 overtime loss. “I’m not talking about my offense. I’m taking about my defense. I’ve been getting killed lately and that doesn’t really happen. I have to step up [Sunday night]. I’ve got to get my confidence back, but I just got to play. I think I’ve been thinking too much and normally I just play and everything comes together.
“Starting [Sunday], I’m just going to go play my game and whatever happens, happens. I can’t think about it no more.”
Wolves coach Rick Adelman said he hasn’t considered replacing Brewer in the starting lineup with either defensive specialist Luc Mbah a Moute or Chase Budinger when he returns soon from a season-starting knee injury.
“I haven’t even thought about that,” Adelman said. “We’ll figure that out when we see Chase get on the floor. But right now we’re better off just staying where we are.”
It’s all in the Chase
Budinger at the end of Saturday’s practice in Los Angeles participated in a spirited game of 3-on-3 with teammates who don’t play much. When asked if Budinger might play when the Christmas break is over, Adelman said that’s probably too soon. He said the team wants to evaluate him for “a couple weeks” before consulting with his knee surgeon and setting a timetable for his return.
“He’s moving fine,” Adelman said. “He’s not afraid to put the ball down and go to the basket. He’s not afraid to move. That’s what you’re looking for.”
Budinger will go home to San Diego to continue his individual work while his teammates take the next three days off for their Christmas break.
Two birds with one …
The Wolves played their fourth and final game in Los Angeles this season Sunday night. That’s because they played the Lakers and Clippers together on the same trip twice already, a rare occurrence during Adelman’s 30 years in the league.
In November, the Wolves played the two L.A. teams back to back. This time, they had a day off in between.
“I’ve never seen that very often,” Adelman said. “I don’t mind it, I don’t mind it at all. You get the games over with. It’s better than jumping on a plane and going someplace else.”
• Wolves guard Ricky Rubio was eating a fruit plate before Sunday’s game, a sign he was feeling better after being up ill all night Thursday in L.A. “No toast,” he said of his pregame meal before “Friday’s loss to the Lakers. “Fortunately, I have my energy back,” he said. “I was feeling bad [on Friday], but I try to do my best and it didn’t work.”
• The Wolves were set to fly home after Sunday’s game, at least those coaches and players who aren’t staying in California or who didn’t immediately scatter elsewhere were scheduled to do so. The team won’t practice Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday before they reconvene Thursday and play Washington Friday at home.
• Clippers sixth man Jamal Crawford started Sunday’s game for injured shooting guard J.J. Redick, whom the Wolves pursued as a free agent last summer before signing Kevin Martin. Redick is out because of a broken hand and torn wrist ligament.