Timberwolves rookie Robbie Hummel had about 100 text messages on his cellphone as well as a crowd of reporters surrounding his locker Wednesday night after he made his first NBA career start in a 124-95 rout of Cleveland at Target Center.
“That’s what you want,” the former Purdue star said about all the attention. “That’s something I haven’t had since college, since there wasn’t exactly a media following a whole lot last year in Spain.”
Wolves coach Rick Adelman started Hummel at small forward and moved Corey Brewer to shooting guard to defend Cleveland’s Dion Waiters after he learned veteran Kevin Martin was too ill to play.
Hummel’s stomach tumbled a little and “my heart instantly started beating a lot faster” when he was told 40 minutes before the opening tap. Among other reasons, Adelman wanted another shooter on the floor in Martin’s absence.
Hummel played 28 minutes, made four of six shots, including two three-pointers, and had 10 points, four rebounds and an assist while earning Adelman’s praise for doing everything to help his teammates.
“He did great,” Adelman said. “He’s one of those guys who does all the little things you don’t notice. He makes open shots. He’s always in the right spot defensively helping guys out. He rebounds the ball. He’s just kind of a glue guy. He doesn’t need to do anything to help the team because he does all the little things a lot of people don’t notice.”
Somebody asked Hummel afterward if he was the difference in the game.
“What? Was I the difference?” he asked. “Ricky [Rubio] had 16 assists and Kevin [Love] had 30-some points. But it was nice to come out and play with the first unit. I just wanted to do my part.”
Pekovic finding his groove
It took a while, but Timberwolves center Nikola Pekovic has rediscovered his game.
After struggling with his shot early, Pekovic has scored in double figures in five consecutive games, hitting 30 of 56 shots in the process.
Against the Lakers on Monday night, he scored a season-high 25 points to go with 10 rebounds and two steals.
“He gets better looks when we play better offensively,” Adelman said. “When we move the ball, space the court, he gets more room to operate. We’re figuring that out, trying to get him the ball a little bit better. And he’s finishing better, too. He finished better the last game.”
One reason might be his improving condition. Pekovic, waiting to sign his free-agent deal with the Wolves, didn’t play with the Montenegrin team in the world championships and might not have been in the best shape when the season began.
But now he appears to be running the floor better.
“He’s getting better,” Adelman said. “It’s a different team than the one he played with last year. We have the two Kevins scoring at a high rate. He’s just finding his spots.”