TORONTO – Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman knows he has good reason to be concerned whether a team filled with offensively-minded players will defend sufficiently enough at the floor’s other end.
Monday’s preseason-opening 108-106 loss left him rubbing his head about that offense as well.
Yes, the Wolves are working newcomers Kevin Martin and Corey Brewer into the starting lineup while getting Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio and Nikola Pekovic reacquainted with each other after an injury-riddled season apart.
Even given that, Adelman didn’t like what he saw the first time they faced an opponent’s defense. His starters missed their first seven shots and the Wolves fell behind by 18 points in the second quarter before their reserves brought them back to lead by four points in the fourth quarter’s final minutes.
“We didn’t share the ball like we did in practice,” Adelman said. “They tried to pressure us and body us and be physical with us. If we’re going to allow them to do that, we can’t get into our offense. We ran our offense, but we didn’t execute it. We just kind of went through the motions.”
Adelman discussed that issue with his players during Tuesday’s practice before the Wolves flew to Toronto for back-to-back games Wednesday night against the Raptors and Thursday against Milwaukee in Sioux Falls, S.D.
He wasn’t too pleased that his team had only 18 assists on 40 baskets made.
“It’s our first time playing together,” said Love, who along with Rubio played 27 ½ minutes or the most among the five starters. “We wanted to make one pass and shoot the ball.”
The Wolves play three more games this week in a stretch of four games in six nights. Then they’ll have a week to practice before they play again, Oct. 20 against Boston in Montreal.
“We’ll look at a lot of film of these four games this week,” Adelman said, “and see if we can find out what’s going on.”
Guard J.J. Barea and forward Dante Cunningham both returned to practice Tuesday and each is expected to play Wednesday at Toronto.
Barea missed Monday’s game because of a personal matter and Cunningham missed Sunday’s practice and Monday’s shootaround because he was ill. He declared himself ready to play Monday night, but Adelman decided to rest him anyway.
“I had to play other people, so it didn’t matter,” Adelman said. “He’ll play the next two games. I know what Dante can do.”
Second-year guard Alexey Shved’s performance Monday against his former CSKA Moscow mates — 2-for-12 shooting, including a clutch three-pointer late in regulation — is another example why Adelman preaches consistency to him.
“Lexey loves to have the ball in his hands and when you watch him shoot it in these drills, he shoots it really well,” Adelman said. “But in a game, he never takes the same shot. It’s always a different shot, he’s kicking his leg out. That’s something in our league, you have to be consistent. Catch and shoot over and over again…when he does that, he’s pretty good. But a lot of times he’s off-balance. He’s just got to be consistent.”
Corey Brewer on Monday played 22 ½ minutes, the fewest among the Wolves’ five starters because Adelman wants to explore what else he has at small forward while Chase Budinger is out injured again until probably at least December.
Adelman looked at rookies Shabazz Muhammad and Robbie Hummel as well as camp-invitee Othyus Jeffers on Monday. But it makes sense that Brewer might start because of his defense even when Budinger is healthy, right?
“Maybe,” Adelman said, “but I was looking at it as, ‘What’s the best rotation you have?’ I don’t know how it would have worked out. Chase could have started and Corey would have come in at the 2 [shooting guard] or 3 [small forward] and given us energy.
‘‘That was just something we’d figure out as we went. It was nice we signed both of them with the way Chase went down.”
• Adelman on playing camp-invitees A.J. Price and Jeffers — both of whom have been around the league a good bit — for the final 17 minutes Monday:
“A.J.’s played in the league, he knows what he’s doing. Othyus is the same way. Those guys have experience. They did a nice job. I didn’t plan on playing them 17 straight minutes, but thank goodness it didn’t go into a second overtime.”
• Expect Adelman to play rookies Gorgui Dieng, Lorenzo Brown and big man Chris Johnson against the Raptors after they didn’t play Monday.
Staff writer Amelia Rayno contributed to this report.