With extensive injuries, not even Wolves practice is easy

  • Article by: JERRY ZGODA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 17, 2012 - 7:51 PM

Coach Rick Adelman has to balance giving reserves needed work while giving healthy starters a break.

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. J. Barea, Ricky Rubio and Nikola Pekovic, l-r, are all nursing injuries.

Photo: Marlin Levison, Star Tribune

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Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman did his homework preparing for a four-game break in the schedule that started with an off day on Saturday, and ... he still isn't sure just what he and his injury-ravaged team can accomplish before Wednesday's game against Denver.

"I have a lot of practice plans I've written up that are in storage," he said.

He isn't quite sure what to ask of a team that endured Friday's 106-98 home loss to Golden State without six of its top eight players available.

Adelman is waiting to see how much three of those players -- center Nikola Pekovic (sprained ankle), shooting guard Brandon Roy (knee) and J.J. Barea (sprained foot) -- can do this week, if anything.

He finished Friday's game with just nine fully healthy players and now must strike that balance between getting starters Andrei Kirilenko and Luke Ridnour enough rest and getting a reserve player such as Malcolm Lee and newly signed Josh Howard enough work.

"It's a fine line," Adelman said.

Howard's 14-minute debut on Friday allowed Adelman to trim Kirilenko's minutes slightly, from 44 in each of his two previous games to 39 on Friday.

"To be honest, I'm feeling pretty good," Kirilenko said. "To play those minutes, it's not like I'm crying, saying I don't want to play that. Actually, I like to play a lot of minutes, but you can't be active for all 48 minutes."

Adelman entered Friday's game saying he knows he needs to limit Ridnour's minutes as well because he sees a direct correlation with Ridnour's shooting percentage when he can keep the veteran guard's legs fresh.

But Howard's arrival and guard Will Conroy's departure now leaves Adelman with just Ridnour, Lee and Alexey Shved as his only healthy guards until Barea returns.

That forced him to play Howard some at shooting guard in Friday's second half. He also asked Ridnour to play 39 minutes, and Ridnour made three of 11 shots Friday on a nine-point night.

"Luke has been playing better and better. I think it's going to help him more than anybody else that we have these four days," Adelman said before Friday's game. "I think he'll be able to regroup. You watch him in games: When I'm able to rest him, sit him down and put him back in, he's shooting the ball better. His legs are there. When I have to stretch minutes on him, they're not there.

"Sometimes you have to bite the bullet, and Malcolm can do it. With Will not here, we're going to have to find ways get Lexy on the floor more and Malcolm will have to kick it in."

Shved matched a career high by playing 33 minutes Friday and responded by scoring a career-high 22 points and tying a career high with seven assists.

Lee played 19 minutes Friday after he had played a career-high 35-plus on Wednesday and couldn't finish the game because of leg cramps.

"I don't think he's played 35, 36 minutes and it caught up with him real quick," Adelman said. "That has been a concern right along because he has been hurt in the past and he hasn't been on the court long enough to get his conditioning to a point. Right now, we're stretching the limits with some of these guys, and he's one of them.

"He has to do extra work. It's not time during these four days for him to sit back and take four days to relax. He has to do extra work to get him into shape so he can play that time."

  • TIMBERWOLVES VS. DENVER

    7 p.m. Wednesday • Target Center • FSN, 830-AM

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