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Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin (32) drives into Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love (42) in the second half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles on Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013. Clippers won the game 120-116 in overtime.

Alex Gallardo, Associated Press - Ap

After Kevin Love’s comments about the bench’s poor performance vs. Dallas, the bench came up with 42 points against New Orleans.

MARLIN LEVISON • mlevison@startribune.com,

Did Love's comments spark the Wolves' bench?

  • Article by: Jerry Zgoda
  • Star Tribune
  • January 3, 2014 - 1:11 AM

 

On Monday, Timberwolves star Kevin Love publicly called out his team’s bench and its five-point performance in that night’s loss to Dallas, calling the reserves’ meager output unacceptable.

Late Wednesday, backup point guard J.J. Barea said he didn’t like Love’s public comments, even though he acknowledges they might have helped inspire 42 points of bench production in a runaway victory over New Orleans.

And on Thursday, Wolves coach Rick Adelman weighed in on the subject.

“I think it’s something they need to talk out,” Adelman said. “I don’t think that anybody can deny that five points isn’t going to do it for us. It’s the way you do it. Like Kevin said, I don’t think it was malicious.

‘‘Sometimes it’s best they talk it out themselves, and that’s what we keep talking about. That’s when the leadership and chemistry come together. I think those guys know what Kevin was talking about. I saw what J.J. said. Things happen during the season.”

Adelman said he and his players talked about the matter at practice Thursday.

“They’re fine,” Adelman said. “You see other guys in this league on other teams, they’ll say things. As long as they talk it out off the court and out of newspapers, then things will work out. I don’t think anybody took it one way or the other. These guys need to talk to each other. They need to hold each other accountable.

“I only have six timeouts. You can’t call 20 timeouts in a game. When they’re talking to each other, you learn as a team.”

Budinger return ‘close’

Wolves forward Chase Budinger and center Ronny Turiaf practiced together with teammates in 4-on-4, full-court contact scrimmaging Thursday. Adelman said the return for either player isn’t imminent, but called Budinger’s return approaching.

The Wolves will practice again Friday. When asked if Budinger might play Saturday against Oklahoma City now that he has been cleared for contact practices for more than two weeks, Adelman said about the team’s medical staff, “That’s not what they said. They’ll just keep evaluating him. I don’t ask. They’re going to keep seeing him go full court, talk to his doctor and make a decision when we can actually play him in a game. I think they’re getting close, I really do.”

Mbah a Moute monitor

The Wolves practiced Thursday but didn’t ask much of their starters or backup forward Luc Mbah a Moute, who left Wednesday’s game after he injured his groin. Adelman said Mbah a Moute will be re-evaluated at Friday’s practice.

“It’s all right,” Mbah a Moute said after receiving treatment following Thursday’s practice. “I tried to come back and finish the game, but I couldn’t really run. Obviously, anytime you have an injury you want to make sure you take care of it. We’re watching it. We’ll see how it goes.”

Decisions, decisions

The NBA’s Jan. 10 date for guaranteeing contracts for the rest of this season is just a week away. The Wolves must decide by then whether to guarantee the contracts for Robbie Hummel and A.J. Price, the only two players on the 15-man roster not signed to fully guaranteed contracts.

The Wolves’ options: Guarantee the contract, waive the player and re-sign him or another player to a 10-day contract or include the contract in a trade to a team seeking salary-cap or luxury-tax relief. NBA teams can start signing players to 10-day contracts Monday.

When asked if he’ll simply guarantee both players’ contracts, Wolves basketball boss Flip Saunders was noncommittal and said trade talks throughout the league have started to percolate after being quiet up until now.

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