Wolves still not protecting the basket

  • Article by: JERRY ZGODA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 15, 2013 - 11:48 PM

The Grizzlies' Jon Leuer (30), a former Orono High star, grabbed a rebound away from the Wolves' Dante Cunningham in the first half Sunday.

Photo: Danny Johnston, Associated Press

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– On Friday in San Antonio, Spurs guards Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili attacked the basket with impunity and produced a fourth-quarter comeback victory over the Timberwolves.

On Sunday, Memphis point guard Mike Conley did the same, scoring 28 points and willing his team back from a 19-point second-quarter deficit using drives that again exposed both the Wolves’ perimeter defense and lack of a shot blocker.

This time, the Wolves persevered and won in Memphis for the first time in nearly five years. But coach Rick Adelman said he knows opponents watch game footage and note his team’s weakness.

“We’re not really challenging people at all, and we have to get better at it,” Adelman said. “We’ve talked about it all year long. It has been more evident the last three weeks. We’ve played some very good teams, but we still have to do a better job defending people, and we’re just not doing it. Either you challenge shots at the basket or you get outside the arc and take some charges. That’s the way you can protect the rim. We’re not doing either one.”

The Wolves’ only real shot blocker sits on the bench nightly because Adelman deems rookie Gorgui Dieng not ready to play important minutes yet.

“It’s one of those things,” Adelman said. “He’s a rookie, and you’re going to try to get him some minutes, but we’re not at a spot where we can just let him come along. I’m going to try to get him in the game because he is a guy who can make a difference there, but then you’ve got to do it on the other [offensive] end, too. As you’ve seen, our second group has really struggled to score. That’s why I’m leery.”

Martin scoreless and hurting

Wolves guard Kevin Martin went scoreless Sunday for the first time since Valentine’s Day 2012. He played just 19 minutes and took just three shots.

Martin is 5-for-24 shooting in his past three games since mentioning a sore knee in Detroit on Tuesday. Adelman said Martin asked to come out of Sunday’s game in the second half and Adelman decided not to play him at all in the fourth quarter .

“He was hurting,” Adelman said. “He wasn’t moving very well.”

No time for homecomings

Grizzlies first-year coach Dave Joerger didn’t get back home to Staples, Minn., last summer and won’t get home for Christmas either because of all the demands that accompany being an NBA head coach.

“All the things you guys don’t even know about, some I was aware of and some I wasn’t,” he said before Sunday’s game.

He was asked if he has had to wash any jerseys this season like he once did during all those years as a head coach in the minor leagues. “Haven’t lately,” he said. “But I can tell you where all the laundromats are in the CBA.”

Etc.

• Orono’s Jon Leuer reached 15 points for the sixth time in his past seven games coming off the bench for the Grizzlies.

• Wolves star Kevin Love’s 30-point, nine-rebound game was only the second time this season he didn’t record a double-double. J.J. Barea playfully ridiculed his nine lousy rebounds after the game and Love responded in kind by saying Corey Brewer stole at least five of them. With a caravan of friends and family down from his hometown of Portland, Tenn., Brewer’s 12 rebounds were double his previous season high.

•  Adelman on Love’s 42-point game Friday in San Antonio: “One of the best games I’ve ever seen.”

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