Wolves: Hudson resurfaces to start vs. favorite foe

  • Article by: KENT YOUNGBLOOD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 5, 2007 - 7:49 PM

The point guard's greatest games for the Wolves were against the Lakers in a 2003 playoff series. He'll see if they bring out the best in him again.

Troy Hudson

Timberwolves guard Troy Hudson, right, averaged 23.5 points and 5.5 assists per game in a 2003 playoff series against the Lakers.

Photo: Ann Heisenfelt, Associated Press

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Troy Hudson has been just about everywhere in 10 NBA seasons. He has been on the end of the bench, forgotten. He has been the first man off that same bench, and he has started his share of games.

And so he waited, and he worked. Even when he was getting zero minutes, he would stay after practice and make 150 shots before hitting the showers.

"The NBA season is a long season; I learned that a long time ago," Hudson said Monday, after staying after practice to make 150 more shots. "You never know when your chance is going to come, so you have to be prepared."

Here is his chance, again.

After scoring 26 points with eight assists in his first start of the season Sunday in Boston, Hudson will make his first start at Target Center since the 2004-05 season tonight against the Lakers -- the perfect opponent for such an appearance, of course.

Remember the 2003 playoff series against the Lakers? In six games Hudson averaged 23.5 points and 5.5 assists. Those two weeks, as much as anything, convinced the Wolves that Hudson could be a long-term asset. That was before a devastating ankle injury at the end of the preseason the following season sent Hudson on a two-plus season odyssey of surgery, rehab and lost time.

Maybe that was when Hudson learned the patience he put to such good use this season. Mired on the bench while the Wolves started Mike James and then Randy Foye at point guard, Hudson never complained or demanded a trade. Instead, he helped Foye as much as he could, tried to stay in shape and waited.

"Being angry wouldn't do anything but make things worse," Hudson said. "You get frustrated, at times. But only for a second. Then you come back down and realize that you have to keep working hard. ... For me to go back to the end of the bench, it was a humbling experience. But I took it in stride and just worked through it."

Hudson was put back in the starting lineup because coach Randy Wittman wanted more flow in his offense. Wittman saw that in Sunday's double-overtime loss in Boston. He got that, and more, from Hudson.

"I wasn't expecting 26 points," Wittman said. "But I was not surprised by his court savvy, his pushing the ball up the floor, the flow of our offense."

That was the positive. The Wolves, though, still need to tighten up on defense, and perimeter defense is not one of Hudson's strengths. Wittman called Hudson's defense Sunday "OK" and said the whole team needed to improve, especially with defensive specialist Trenton Hassell likely out because of an ankle injury.

But what impressed Wittman the most was how ready Hudson was to play after having not played significant minutes for so long.

"Publicly as well as to our team, I've used him as an example of a guy that wants to play, probably should be playing and is not, and is handling it the right way," Wittman said. "Every day he worked. He grabbed Randy [Foye], really worked with him on the side, tried to teach him. He was a professional. And I think that's why he was ready."

Foye might now have to deal with fewer minutes. A bad matchup Sunday limited Foye to fewer than six minutes. For the moment, he has ceded his starting job to Hudson as Wittman looks for a combination that can end his team's three-game losing streak.

Maybe Hudson will experience a flashback to that playoff series a few years ago.

"That was my team growing up," Hudson said. "Maybe it's something that is subconscious -- when I see the Lakers, I'm ready to play."

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