Martell Webster is only 25 years old, but sometimes he feels like an old man.
Especially in the morning, when he has to coax himself out of bed. "It's funny," he said. "I play jokes on myself, just to try to get myself out of bed. Like, 'Come on, old man, get up.' I go in there and get my Osteo Bi-Flex, my joint medication."
The reason, of course, is two lower-back operations the past two years. The most recent, coming during the offseason, kept the Timberwolves shooting guard out of action until late January. But here's the hardest part: Webster said he's still not the player he was coming into the league in 2005.
"If you were to compare it to how it was when I first got into the league, yeah," Webster said when asked if he was physically limited. "But I have to work with what I have. The training staff has done a great job of getting my body prepared for the games, and I have to go out and make the most of my opportunities."
The question is, will Webster make it all the way back?
"I don't know," said Webster, who had six points and five rebounds in 23 1/2 minutes during Wednesday's 102-90 victory over Charlotte. "I'm working with it, trying to figure out different ways to get my body going, because I'm at the point now where I can't just wake up, jump out of bed and go play 48 minutes."
The biggest limitation, he said, is in range of motion and rotation in his lower back which has, in turn, limited what he can do on the court.
As it is now, Webster has to get to the arena hours before a game just to get prep work in and warm up his body. "I will eventually start to get better, but right now is the tedious [time] when you have to keep grinding and going through it," he said. "But I'm very optimistic it will work out."
Point guards Ricky Rubio and J.J. Barea agree they have to cut down on turnovers. But, perhaps, each has to approach that task from a different angle.
The sudden rise in turnovers was a big reason for the Wolves' four-game losing streak.
"We have to control the ball," Rubio said. "We have to run the right play. Sometimes we run the play but we don't care about the ball."
Said Barea: "Me and Ricky, we're just trying to put too much pressure on ourselves to create for others and for ourselves."
So what has to change? In Rubio's case, he said teams have made it more difficult to pass out of the pick and roll, but said there were things he could do to counter that. The Wolves prepared for Wednesday's game by working on getting into pick and rolls out of movement, hoping that would make it more difficult to defend. Ultimately, though, Rubio said he has to keep attacking the rim when the opportunity presents itself.
For Barea, the key might be attacking the basket less. Coach Rick Adelman mentioned that Tuesday, and Barea, who had eight assists and no turnovers in 26 minutes vs. the Bobcats, agreed. "No question," he said. "I haven't shot a midrange shot yet, at least in a while. I kind of forgot about it. My three-point shot is going in, I'm getting to the hoop, now I have to mix it up."
• Barea said he's a big fan of Knicks phenom Jeremy Lin because they're both players who made it into the league without having been drafted. "Nobody gave him a chance," Barea said. "But he [finally] got a chance and he's proven himself."
• Here is the field Kevin Love will be competing against in the three-point shooting contest over All-Star weekend: James Jones and Mario Chalmers of Miami, Orlando's Ryan Anderson, New Jersey's Anthony Morrow and Atlanta's Joe Johnson.
• Bobcats coach Paul Silas, a fearsome rebounder in his day, said of Love: "His timing is unbelievable. He's not a great leaper, but his timing is just like out of this world. [He] kind of reminds me of me."