Even though his team was coming off consecutive blowout losses, even though recently activated center Nikola Pekovic could probably use the time to reintegrate himself back into the rotation, Wolves coach Flip Saunders canceled practice Thursday.
He’ll find out in Friday’s game against New Orleans at Target Center if that improves the team’s energy level.
Wednesday the Wolves posted season lows in points and shooting percentage in a 98-75 loss to the Dallas Mavericks. It was their second loss in a row by more than 20 points, and the second consecutive game in which they struggled shooting the ball.
Afterward, noting that the team had just played its fourth game in six nights, he wondered aloud whether it was a case of his team just being tired.
“I know the guys have played a lot of minutes and had to do a lot of things,” Saunders said. “Especially going through the losing streak. Our energy level in our last two games is not at all the energy level that we need to be.”
So Saunders gave them a day off.
There were treatments and some individual workouts. But the only thing done as a team was a tour of the new practice facility.
It might be what the team needed. Dealing with injuries, several Wolves players have played heavy minutes of late, including guard Mo Williams and rookie Andrew Wiggins, two players whose production has fallen off in the past two games.
Before Wednesday’s game Saunders talked about trying to keep Pekovic’s minutes down in his first action after missing 31 games because of an ankle issue.
Well, he tried. Pekovic scored 14 points with four rebounds in just under 23 minutes of playing time. Afterward, Saunders said he thought Pekovic was one of the Wolves’ best players.
Pekovic, though, sounded like a fellow with a ways to go.
“My legs get a little tired, but in the second half I felt better,” he said.
That said, Pekovic admitted that heavy legs affected his defense and his jump shot as the game wore on.
“It’s going to come,” he said.
Friday’s game with New Orleans is a rematch of a record-setting loss by the Wolves in New Orleans in mid-November.
The 139-91 loss was the biggest margin of defeat in Wolves franchise history, and the Pelicans’ 66.7 percent shooting was the highest ever by a Wolves opponent. The Pelicans set franchise marks for first-quarter points (43), first-half points (80) as well as points in a game and margin of victory.