EL SEGUNDO, CALIF. - The way his season is going -- very much like his last couple of NBA seasons -- Timberwolves forward Andrei Kirilenko sounds ready to adopt a custom from the old country if it'll keep him healthy.
Kirilenko's strained calf sustained early in Tuesday's 84-83 overtime loss at Phoenix follows back spasms and a strained quad that caused him to miss more than a week each time earlier this season.
He will not play in Thursday night's TNT game against the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center and made no predictions about when he might be back, like he correctly did with his first two injures.
"So frustrating when you got something like this again," he said. "Somebody cursed us. Too many people missing games, like something wrong. If we would be in Russia, we go to church and put out the candles. I hope it would be that easy."
Without Kirilenko, Wolves coach Rick Adelman will have to rely upon Mickael Gelabale, Alexey Shved and perhaps go with a Dante Cunningham-Derrick Williams' frontcourt tag team to compensate for Kirilenko's size and defensive game.
"I don't know how long, but he'll be out for a while," Adelman said. "And that will really hurt us again because we're just so small offensively. It just makes it hard. The hardest thing for us is [to] keep these guys going. It gets old listening to the same thing and we have to find a way to win until we get people back. Hopefully we might get Chase [Budinger] and Kevin [Love] back. We still have to find a way to compete and win."Mr. Clutch
The Wolves showed up at the Lakers practice facility Wednesday afternoon, but concluded after about 30 minutes when Adelman challenged J.J. Barea to make a half-court shot and Barea canceled practice by making it on his first attempt.
The Wolves whooped and hollered almost as much those Mississippi college kids did when a cheerleader made a somersaulting half-court shot that became a YouTube sensation last week.
"He'll do anything to get out of practice, even make his shot," Adelman deadpanned about a poor shooting team. "He won't make it in a game, but he'll make it for that ...
"We need to come over and just get together. We didn't need to do anything on the court. We didn't have enough people anyway."Go-to guy?
Adelman continues to search for a player he trusts to score with the ball in his hands at the end of the game, but said he'll take every time Alexey Shved's driving layup that could have won Tuesday's game in the final three seconds but missed.
"We can't seem to find an answer that has been consistent for us," Adelman said, referring to a play drawn up for either Shved or Williams to score. "Lexey had a great opportunity at the end, just didn't finish the play. He got a really good look at it. He's the one guy we have with his size and length that he can get around people the best and he really sees the court well. He's got to take that shot."Etc.
• Starting center Nikola Pekovic received IV treatments after Tuesday's overtime game because he played ill, Adelman said. He is expected to play Thursday. "I didn't know if he was going to play at the start, but he got through it," Adelman said.
• The Wolves make their final of three TNT appearances this season on Thursday and get the A-Team crew: Marv Albert, Mike Fratello and Craig Sager will work the game.