Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman is a private, understated guy who prefers to get his work done and go home, a guy who harrumphed more about his approaching 1,000th NBA career victory than he reveled in it.
But when it finally came Saturday night with a 107-101 victory over Detroit, he lifted his perpetually slumped shoulders and found a silver lining in it all.
He looked back and saw a Wolves team that now has won three of its past four games, four of its past six and six of its past 10 and thought maybe this quest for a common goal contributed just a bit to it all in a season that went astray in more ways than one.
“In some ways, it was good for this group,” he said. “We’ve had such a tough time, we’re just trying to scrape wins out and when you have something like this you’re actually working for, there are expectations. There’s a little bit more pressure, and I think that’s good because this group has to learn what that’s all about.
“To be a good team, that’s where the expectations are. It’s not just to win a game, it’s to keep going. I’m really happy with the way they played the last week.”
Wolves players hugged their coach and encircled him when he wrapped an arm around his wife, Mary Kay, on the court after the game, when he was interviewed about the special occasion for the television audience and arena crowd after a video tribute was shown on Target Center’s overhead scoreboard.
That 1,000th victory came just before the Wolves head out Monday for a three-game trip that starts Tuesday at Golden State and ends Friday at Utah.
“I’m really glad we did it here,” Adelman said. “It’s something I never thought about, never aspired to, but I’m glad I got it.”
A coach’s conversation
This 1,000th-victory stuff isn’t anything new for Wolves forward Andrei Kirilenko. He has been through it before with Jerry Sloan in Utah.
“I think he’s a great coach for me,” Kirilenko said of Adelman. “I like this style of coaching. He’s really diplomatic and he’s very a player’s coach. He likes to have a dialogue, not a monologue.”
The term “player’s coach” is enough of a cliché that even Adelman claims he doesn’t really know what it means.
But just like art, a player knows what he likes and guard J.J. Barea has been in the league long enough to know what he and his teammates have in their coach.
“We joke around here, but I tell guys they don’t know how good they got it. He’s a player’s coach. He gives you full confidence when he puts you in there. He’s laid back. As long as you work hard and do your thing, you’ll be all right.”
Big hug from the big boss
Barea was the first to give his coach a hug at the end of Saturday’s game, but he wasn’t the only one.
Adelman also got a big hug from team owner Glen Taylor after Adelman completed his postgame news conference.