Miller feels nerves in brief debut for Wolves

  • Article by: JERRY ZGODA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 30, 2012 - 12:05 AM

Brad Miller made his Timberwolves debut by playing his first game since his Houston team won at Target Center in the season finale last April.

Timberwolves center Brad Miller

Photo: Andy King, Associated Press

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Yes, Brad Miller lives.

The veteran center recovering from May knee surgery proved as much Sunday night, when he made his Timberwolves debut by playing his first game since his Houston team won at Target Center in the season finale last April.

"Definitely felt kind of weird," Miller said after the 106-101 loss to the Lakers. "Last time I actually played was in this arena. It has been nine months, but it felt like it has been about a year and a half."

He played eight minutes -- a little less than four minutes in the second quarter, a little more than four minutes in the third. The Wolves needed help against Lakers big men Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol because Darko Milicic was sick for a second consecutive game and starting center Nikola Pekovic got into foul trouble.

"My legs were shaking like I was about a rookie out there," Miller said. "The work I've done on my knee, I've just got to get my brain on the same page."

Miller missed two shots, got to the free-throw line for four attempts and finished with three points, no rebounds and a foul while banging with Bynum and Gasol, among others.

"That's what I'm here for," Miller said. "I'm definitely not scared of anybody in this league. Shaq's 350-pound butt is watching TV now, so there's really nobody out there who scares me too much."

Not ready

Milicic was expected to play, but he became light-headed after warming up. He said he doesn't have the flu but has been told he has low potassium levels.

"I've eaten about 2 pounds of bananas the last two days," said Milicic, who also has the usual sore throat and running nose he claims he has almost all winter in Minnesota.

A big moment

Wolves rookie Derrick Williams remained in a reserve's role on Sunday for the second consecutive game after he started at small forward on an emergency basis. But he experienced an evening unlike any other so far in his young career when he faced his hometown team for the first time.

"You can play the Heat and the Thunder and all these great teams," said Williams, who grew up in Los Angeles and watched a young Kobe Bryant play at the Fabulous Forum when Williams was a young boy. "But I'm from out there and this Laker game is one of the highlights of my career, just because of the other guys on the other side of the court. With Kobe, just to be on the same court with that guy is an accomplishment. To say I'm out here with one of the best players in the world, it's just a great thing."

What might have ...

Wolves coach Rick Adelman interviewed for the Lakers job last spring before the team hired former Cleveland Cavaliers coach Mike Brown instead.

"I don't think about it that much," Adelman said. "It was a long, long time ago. It was just a conversation we had. I never look back on something like that."

Rubio: Pau no pushover

If Gasol's 16 first-half points on his way to a 28-point night didn't prove it again, pal Ricky Rubio's words said so about the big Spaniard and the notion that European players aren't rugged.

"A lot of people say Pau is soft," Rubio said. "I can tell you he's not. I practiced with him a lot in the summer and he's tough. I mean, he plays hard and one of the best things is he's a leader. A leader can't be soft."

Etc.

• Milicic and Wes Johnson aren't the only ones with the Timberwolves who have been fighting illness. Assistant coach Bill Bayno returned to the bench Sunday after missing Friday's game because he, too, was sick.

• Bryant surpassed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and became the Lakers' all-time leader in field goals made when he made his 9,337th in the second quarter.

• Brown moved Metta World Peace, the player once known as Ron Artest, into the starting lineup for what he called a "change of scenery."

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