Early in Saturday’s game against Utah at Target Center, with the scored tied at nine, Kevin Martin started doing what Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman has been asking him to do for a while now. He got aggressive.
He got into position, took a pass from Nikola Pekovic and scored from 11 feet out. Next time down he hit a 10-footer. By the end of the first quarter Martin had only five points, but he was looking for his shot. In the second quarter, as the Wolves put the game away for good, those shots started falling. In just 5½ minutes of playing time, Martin scored 11 second-quarter points. By the time the half ended, the Wolves were up 28 and Martin led all scorers with 16 points.
“He’s got to shoot the ball,” Adelman said. “I don’t care if it’s bad or good, he’s got to shoot the ball. He can get on a run. The two people who can get on a run like that [on the Wolves roster] are the two Kevins.’’
That would be Kevin Love and Martin.
Adelman has been looking for the aggressive Martin from earlier this season to return. The message appears to be getting through. At halftime of the Wolves’ game at Toronto on Friday, Adelman and Martin talked.
“He came up and said, ‘Do you see anything?’ ’’ Adelman said. “I said, ‘Yeah, you’re just not going into your shot. You’re cruising into your shot. Drifting into it. Hesitating.’ ’’
The Wolves lost the game. But Martin might have turned a corner. He scored 16 points in the second half on 5-for-8 shooting. And then he had the big first half Saturday, a game in which he was much more assertive.
Saturday’s one-sided victory — the Wolves’ ninth of 20 points or more — took a little of the pressure off after a three-game losing streak.
But Adelman, addressing the issue of learning to win close games, said one answer might be to go to Pekovic more.
“We have to get Pek more involved down the stretch, at the end of games,” Adelman said. “That’s something we have to look at and see what he can do when the game is on the line. Now, they may double him, or whatever. But we have to find out.”
Adelman wouldn’t mind a double team. He feels Pekovic has gotten more adept at passing out of double teams. Bottom line, Adelman said, is Pekovic has to be given the chance to get the feel of having the ball in those situations.
“As a post-up player, that’s how you gain experience,” Adelman said. “You start getting different looks thrown at you, and you figure it out."
• On Monday, the Wolves will head to Utah for Tuesday’s rematch with the Jazz. It is the first of four consecutive road games — one of two four-game trips this season. Minnesota plays at Golden State and Portland on Friday and Saturday and Chicago on Monday.
• Love finished 17,000 votes behind the Clippers’ Blake Griffin for a starting frontcourt spot in the Western Conference All-Star squad.