Over and over last season Wolves coach Rick Adelman talked about the need to improve the team’s ability to protect the rim.
So far that’s exactly what has happened. Entering tonight’s game with Orlando at Target Center, the Wolves are second in the league in blocks, averaging 8.67 per game. That is a dramatic improvement from last season, when the team averaged 3.8.
The biggest reasons are the addition of Andrei Kirilenko and Greg Stiemsma. Kirilenko is a starter at forward while Stiemsma comes off the bench. They are tied for fifth in the league with 2.67 blocks per game.
“We’re trying to be consistent in that area,” Adelman said. “I think Andrei really helps there. He comes from the weak side, gets some blocks. You have to have good defense at the basket, and those guys give us that.”
Dante Cunningham has also been active defensively around the basket.
--Tonight the Wolves will be facing an Orlando team that came into the game shooting 48.9 percent on three-pointers, third-best in the league.
“They shoot it very well,” Adelman said. “We had a lot of experience with that in the last game (in Brooklyn), for three quarters. You’ve got to run ‘em off. They do a nice job of moving the ball. They’ve started well, they’re playing at a good pace.”
--It’s the same starting lineup tonight: Luke Ridnour, Brandon Roy, Nikola Pekovic, Kirilenko and Derrick Williams.
--Adelman said not to read into the fact that Brandon Roy hasn’t seen playing time in the fourth quarter of the Wolves’ games in Toronto and Brooklyn. “It’s just circumstances,” Adelman said. “The Toronto game, we were getting beat pretty good. The last game I just went with the guys who were playing well.”