PHILADELPHIA – Former second-round pick Robbie Hummel has spent the past month trying to prove he belongs on this Timberwolves team because of his versatility and accurate shooting. In Wednesday’s 125-102 victory at Philadelphia, the former Purdue star started for the first time this preseason in what likely was his last audition before management chooses the team’s final roster.
Hummel played nearly 31 minutes and … he made only one of nine shots from the field.
Afterward, though, both Hummel and, more importantly, Wolves coach Rick Adelman sounded like Hummel has done enough to stick around when the team’s final 15-man roster is submitted to the NBA office by Monday.
“I didn’t shoot it very well, obviously, which is disappointing because those are shots that I feel like I made for the last six weeks of camp,” Hummel said. “Obviously, you’ve got to perform when you’re given the opportunity, and I didn’t do that. But otherwise defensively, rebounding, I feel I did a pretty good job of that.”
Hummel, a late second-round pick in 2012 who played in Spain last season, matched up against former USA Basketball roommate and Big Ten nemesis Evan Turner most of the night while delivering a two-point, five-rebound, three-assist, one-turnover, two-foul performance.
“I don’t worry about him not shooting the ball,” Adelman said. “He does all the other little things on the court. He’s always in the right spot defensively. He gets those same shots, he’s going to make shots. I don’t worry about him missing shots. He just fits right in with the team he’s on, whether it’s the first group or the second group.”
And that’s just what Adelman says he wants — the right fit — out of an experiment at the small-forward position in which he started veteran Corey Brewer the first four preseason games, Derrick Williams on Sunday in Montreal, Hummel on Wednesday and might start either Shabazz Muhammad or Othyus Jeffers in Thursday’s finale at Detroit.
Told that Adelman isn’t worried about him making shots, Hummel said, “I don’t either. Those are shots I’ve made for all of camp. Obviously, it’s just disappointing to come out and have the opportunity and not make those. But I know I’m a good shooter. However many minutes I play tomorrow in Detroit, I’ll shoot the ball.”
Adelman played his other four starters less than 18 minutes each Wednesday on a night he used to look at everybody but Brewer, who received the night off.
Adelman said he’ll play his starters something more approaching regular-season minutes on Thursday.
Wolves brass will meet over the weekend to decide who, barring a trade or late free-agent signing, will get the two remaining spots on their 15-man roster.
The way Adelman has been talking about Hummel in recent days, it sure sounds as if the coach really likes the guy who can play both forward spots and might have been a lottery pick if he hadn’t tore up his knee twice in less than a year at Purdue.
“I think he does [like me],” Hummel said. “I think I’ve always been a glue guy who can do a little bit of everything. Hopefully, I can do that. Hopefully, I’ve done enough to make the team. You’ve got to weigh everything. You’ve been playing for a month now. I don’t think a bad shooting night is going to get you cut from the team.
“I feel I played an overall good game. I just didn’t make those shots like I usually do.”
Barrea provides offense
The Wolves got outscored 50-32 in points in the paint by a 76ers team that might be the NBA’s worst this season. But Minnesota still won easily, thanks partly to reserve guard J.J. Barea’s 22-point night on 7-for-11 shooting in just 16½ minutes. He made three three-pointers on a night when the Wolves made 15 combined.
“I’m trying, I’m working on it,” Barea said about his shot. “That’s what I want to get better this year: Get my percentages up and help this team as much as I can off the bench. And see what happens. I feel great. I had a great summer [with the Puerto Rican national team]. I came to training camp in shape and I’m trying to stay that way. I’m doing everything I can.”
Calling it an early night
Wolves forward Dante Cunningham was ejected in the third quarter after receiving two technical fouls, one for elbowing a 76ers player as he pivoted with the ball and the other for yapping after the play. He threw his head band into the crowd as he left the floor and was replaced by Williams, who played the final 15 minutes.
• Kevin Love scored 19 points in just 15 minutes, but took 15 shots. “I didn’t even really realize I shot that much,” said Love, who made four of six three-point attempts. “Coach just kept telling me to keep taking those shots because they’re the right shot.”
• Adelman played eight players off the bench 13 minutes or more each. Rookie Shabazz Muhammad played 18 efficient minutes: eight points (4-for-6 shooting) and six rebounds.
• The 76ers have two Minnesotans on their roster, for now: Former first-round pick Royce White who scored five points in 22½ minutes and will win a roster spot and former Gopher Rodney Williams.