A day after the Wolves’ disheartening loss to the Clippers, Kurt Rambis was still talking about his team’s effort – or lack of it – in a seemingly winnable game. Rambis talked about how good teams are aware of their effort level, and have players who police each other to prevent a letdown. He spent the past decade coaching Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher, so he’s seen that sort of teamwork – which doesn’t exist yet in Minnesota.
“It’s a talent. It takes a lot of focus and determination to play hard each and every game,” Rambis said. “Sometimes players think they’re playing hard. It’s a phenomenon in athletics you can’t deny, it’s there for every team, and it’s a matter of whether the leadership is there to prevent it.”
A few other tidbits from the Timberwolves’ practice Thursday, as they prepared for the Kings tonight:
-- It was interesting to watch Ryan Hollins work on his rebounding with assistant coaches Bill Laimbeer and Dave Wohl. In an effort to get Hollins to better utilize his huge wingspan, the assistants took giant pads, like you might see on a football tackling dummy, and used them to lean on Hollins from both sides, sort of mirroring a scrum for a rebound. Hollins pushed back against the coaches and launched himself toward the rim to collect rebounds. Not a bad drill, considering Hollins’ zero defensive rebounds in 14 minutes Wednesday.
-- Ryan Gomes sat out of practice, his sprained left ankle still bothering him, but stayed late to work on his shooting with coach Reggie Theus. He won’t play tonight, and his status beyond that is iffy. But if there’s a game Gomes would like to be in uniform for, one would have to assume the Wolves’ annual game at Boston – which comes up this Sunday night – would be it, considering he spent his first two NBA seasons with the Celtics.
-- A crew from ESPN’s Australian division was at practice to film a feature story about center Nathan Jawai, a native of Sydney. Speaking of the Outback Shaq, Rambis praised his play in Wednesday’s game, in which he scored nine points. “We weren’t playing hard, we weren’t playing with the effort it takes to get stops, so I was looking for somebody to go out there and put that effort out there on the floor,” Rambis said. “Sometimes you need a player to come out there to catapult everyone out there. And I thought he did a good job of that.”
-- After practice, the entire roster went Christmas shopping – but not for themselves. The Wolves treated 20 foster children awaiting adoption to a surprise shopping spree at the downtown Target store.
-- PHIL MILLER
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