Wolves' backup big men get some scrutiny in loss

  • Article by: JERRY ZGODA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 20, 2012 - 6:05 AM

Greg Stiemsma and Dante Cunningham got chances as stand-ins for Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Love.

CHICAGO - After the week his team had with hands, Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman didn't take any chances Friday in Chicago.

He sat out starting center Nikola Pekovic and his swollen hand on a night when the Wolves previewed life without both Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio for the next month and more with a 92-81 loss to the Bulls at United Center.

Adelman called it his decision, and said it didn't make sense to risk Pekovic hurting his hand again, not after Love followed the big guy into the doctor's office on Wednesday and discovered he had broken his shooting hand doing knuckles push-ups.

"That's a pretty physical team out there, and I didn't want to see him on the sidelines because of an injury right now," Adelman said.

So Adelman used the occasion to get a long look at Greg Stiemsma and Dante Cunningham, whom he started at center and power forward against a Bulls team that outrebounded the shorthanded Wolves by six and outscored them 14-2 to start the game and 50-35 by halftime.

Pekovic said he would have played with his hand padded if it had been a regular-season game.

"We don't need any more broken hands," he said.

Manhandled

Adelman said he'll start both Cunningham and Derrick Williams at power forward in these final three preseason games that started Friday in Chicago in an attempt to define his rotation by the Nov. 2 opener. The two players split playing time almost evenly Friday.

"I thought we could be a lot better," Adelman said. "I just think they need to be more active. They just manhandled us around the basket, and we've got to be better than that."

Getting his chance

Stiemsma started and played more than 26 minutes after he played just three minutes against the Bulls six days earlier. Adelman praised him for his active play, particularly in the second half. He scored nine points and blocked two shots.

"I'm still getting used to the system, still getting used to playing with these guys," Stiemsma said, "but I felt pretty good out there."

Love hurts

Rubio accompanied the team to Chicago for moral support. He'll soon have a partner: Adelman wants Rubio and Love around the team as much as their rehabilitation schedules allow.

"I don't know, we have so much bad luck on this team," Rubio said when asked about Love joining him on the injured list. "It's hard for us. It's our star. I don't know how to say, just it was too much for us because he's so much for our team. I talked to him. He's sad. He's mad. But there's nothing he can do but move forward."

No luck, no Luke

Starting point guard Luke Ridnour missed his third preseason game Friday because of a bad back that hasn't improved. Without him, Adelman started J.J. Barea again and played Will Conroy and Malcolm Lee off the bench.

"I'm definitely concerned," Adelman said. "We have a couple weeks and it's really important we have both him and J.J. healthy. With him hurting like this, it's going to be tough."

Etc.

• The Wolves waived guard Jermaine Taylor after the game to get their roster down to 17 players. They must be at a maximum of 15 by the season opener.

• Rubio is hopeful he can begin to move laterally again in about two weeks and said he's probably a month away from practicing 5-on-0 with no contact. He began shooting some jump shots this week for the first time since his March surgery.

• Lee saw his first preseason action, playing the game's final 6:38 after he injured his groin during a training camp practice. He made a three-pointer and scored six points. "He attacked the basket, he made a couple shots," Adelman said. "I thought he did all right."

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