Wolves always can count on Ridnour

  • Article by: KENT YOUNGBLOOD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 26, 2013 - 10:43 PM
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Minnesota Timberwolves guard Luke Ridnour (13) breaks through the defense of Houston Rockets guard James Harden, back left, and center Greg Smith (4) in the first half of an NBA basketball game on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013, in Minneapolis.

Photo: Stacy Bengs, Associated Press

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CHARLOTTE, N.C.- During a season filled with injuries and illness, ups and downs, there has been one constant in the Timberwolves' roster.

Luke Ridnour.

He is rarely flashy but routinely reliable. Most importantly, he has been available despite illness, back issues and the wear and tear of the NBA season.

When the Wolves took the court Saturday to play the Charlotte Bobcats, Ridnour was in the starting lineup again. He is the only Wolf who has played in every game.

"I'm always halfway there," Ridnour joked before the game. Then he went out and played in his 41st game, the midway point of the season.

Ridnour has turned in steady numbers. He is averaging 12 points on 44.5 percent shooting, with 4.1 assists a game. His three-point shooting is down a bit from his career average. But he has scored in double figures in all but 10 games. Ridnour had scored 12 or more points in nine of 10 games and averaged 13.4 points in January. Most importantly, he is always on the court, despite a disc problem in his back that has bothered him most of the season.

Ridnour scored 22 points on Saturday, with seven rebounds and seven assists.

"Luke's a warrior," acting head coach Terry Porter said. "You ask anyone in that locker room. There have been multiple times when we didn't think he was going to go, [because of his] back or whatever the situation was. But he has always gutted it out, found a way to do it. He is a pro in that regard."

At the start of the season, with Ricky Rubio still on the mend, Ridnour was asked to do more at the point guard spot. Since Rubio's return he has worked more as a shooting guard with a knack for finding space for his jumper, as well for staying healthy.

"I've been able to learn through my career how to get loose," he said. "Sometimes it's just a matter of giving it a shot, because sometimes when you get out there you feel a lot better than you thought you might. My goal is to play 82. Hopefully we can get there.''

If he does, it would be the third time Ridnour, in his 10th season, has played in every game of an 82-game season.

Similar situation

There should have been a lot of empathy flowing in the hours before the game. Both the Bobcats and the Timberwolves are struggling. And while it might be for different reasons -- Charlotte because of youth, the Wolves because of injuries -- the fact is both teams had lost eight of nine games entering Saturday's contest.

"We could switch locker rooms and I'm sure the faces of our tenants would be the same, in terms of what we're pushing [through]," Charlotte coach Mike Dunlap said.

Etc.

• Andrei Kirilenko was cut above the eye while scoring the first basket of the game. He left the floor and required six stitches. He returned to action late in the first quarter.

• Despite injuring a thigh muscle in the second half of Friday's game in Washington, D.C., backup guard J.J. Barea played his usual role in the rotation.

• Was it a case of Mother Nature adding insult to injuries? The Wolves' charter Friday night was supposed to arrive from Raleigh, N.C. But an ice storm grounded the plane, forcing the Wolves to sit at the terminal for more than an hour. The team didn't get into its hotel until after 1 a.m. Saturday. "You don't think charters are supposed to happen that way," Porter said. "Just list it among the other adversities we have to overcome."

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