Wolves coach Rick Adelman knows his team, tired of practicing, is ready to finally play a game that matters. Nonetheless, on Monday he pushed them through a rather long practice.

“We’re getting a little antsy,” Adelman said after the practice. “They’re complaining to each other, moaning and groaning. We have another day to cover some things, and I think we’ll be ready to play a game.”

With Wednesday’s opener looming, Adelman continues to emphasize the need to improve defensively. This isn’t a new theme; Adelman has been preaching the need for better defense since camp started. The coach clearly isn’t satisfied yet.

“I still believe, at the defensive end, we have to be more consistent,” he said. “We cannot lose our concentration at that end.”

Adelman said he has been pushing his players to “get out of their comfort zone” when it comes to playing defense.

“They have to realize it’s a part of the game we have to be better at,” he said. “It ebbs and flows. We do drill work, and what you want to see is them taking the drill work into the game. … It’s going to take some time.”

It appears Adelman’s message is getting through. When asked for his assessment of the team, point guard Ricky Rubio said, “We just have to be solid on defense. At times we gamble too much. If we can improve on that, we’re going to be a good team.”

Decisions, decisions

There is still no official announcement about who will start at small forward. But after practice on the Target Center main floor, Flip Saunders, president of basketball operations, took Derrick Williams to the top of the lower bowl for a little chat.

Asked about it afterward, Williams said the talk was about embracing his role on the team and being willing to continue to work at both small and power forward.

Then Williams talked about the plusses and minuses of starting vs. coming off the bench.

“If I’m in the starting lineup, I think we all know I won’t be [a top offensive option],” he said. “But if I’m coming off the bench, coaches are looking at me and J.J. [Barea] to be the spark plugs. You have to learn your role.”

Meanwhile, Corey Brewer said he had no preference when it came to starting or coming off the bench.

“I’ll play the same way,” he said. “I’ve been in the league seven years. I’ve done both. It really doesn’t matter.”


• Kevin Martin, overheard talking about playing with Rubio: “He has a great feel for the game. We’re going to be quite a backcourt over the next three or four years, depending on my retirement.”

• Forward Chase Budinger, recovering from knee surgery, will not be in town for the opener Wednesday.

“He said he’ll be here in a couple weeks,” Adelman said.