Wolves fall to Russian team in problem-filled exhibition

  • Article by: JERRY ZGODA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 8, 2013 - 11:36 AM

 

The last thing anybody, particularly Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman, wanted from Monday night’s preseason opener was overtime. So when it came with a 108-106 loss to CSKA Moscow at Target Center, the best Adelman could call it was a “good teaching experience” for his players young and old alike.

From his starters, he wanted better professionalism on a night when his team fell behind by 18 points in the second quarter and led by four points late, long after his first unit went to the bench for the night.

From second-year guard Alexey Shved, he wanted better decision-making than the silly foul he committed with 7.5 seconds left in the fourth quarter that sent CSKA Moscow guard Milos Teodosic to the free-throw line for two shots that forced overtime.

And from forward Derrick Williams, he wants two hands on the ball when the game’s on the line.

Shved and Williams carried the Wolves’ second unit from eight points behind to start the fourth quarter to the brink of victory, only to watch it slip away in the final 78 seconds of regulation time and overtime.

Shved committed the unnecessary and untimely foul in the fourth quarter’s final seconds after he had made a clutch three to give the Wolves a four-point lead — their biggest of the night — with 1:18 left against the team that raised him as a professional.

Williams scored 14 of his team-high 21 points in the fourth quarter and overtime but missed three of four free throws late in overtime. Before that, he missed a flying, one-handed putback dunk in the fourth quarter’s final minute that left Adelman gesturing for him to use both hands.

“He tried twice to make the one-handed slam — the hero play,” Adelman said. “Just grab it with two hands and put it in. We need the basket. It’s just something you’ve got to learn. But there were a lot of other things out there, too.”

Williams, slimmed down to 235 pounds, is trying to win minutes at small forward and prove he is worth guaranteeing by month’s end a $6.6 million salary for the 2014-15 season.

“I’m just going to keep going hard,” he said. “I don’t know if it was a hero play or not. I tried to dunk the ball. That’s really all I can say about that. I tried to dunk it really quick. I thought if I caught it and came down, it’d be an opportunity for them to block it. I tried to sneak it in there real quick. You know, it happens. It’s preseason.”

Williams and Shved played the entire fourth quarter and overtime with A.J. Price and Othyus Jeffers long after Adelman sat Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio and the rest of the starters down for the night, as he had planned to do all along.

“Our starters didn’t come here ready to play at all tonight,” Adelman said. “I just didn’t like the way we played. We didn’t share the ball like we did in practice. Defensively, there was no communication. ”

Still the same?

CSKA Moscow’s Ettore Messina coached Shved when he was an athletic, skinny, 17-year-old prospect.

“He was very, very young and I remember his haircut that was not maybe the most appropriate,” said Messina, who now coaches a CSKA team that includes former NBA players Nenad Krstic and Jeremy Pargo. “I remember his incredible athleticism, even if he was skinny, and his strong desire to play point guard with his size and ability to handle the ball.”

Has anything really changed all that much since then?

“I remember he had something, but he was finding his way,” Messina said. “It took him a few years … and now he is here.”

Barea, Cunningham out

Backup point guard J.J. Barea missed Monday’s game and shootaround with what the team called a personal matter. His absence created space for Shved to back up Rubio at point guard and play shooting guard as well.

Adelman entered the game intending to play 12 or 13 men and then play the other four or five on Wednesday in Toronto. He played 13 instead, opting for rookies Shabazz Muhammad and Robbie Hummel, among others, in the first half and Jeffers and Price down the stretch in the second half. That saved Gorgui Dieng, Chris Johnson and Lorenzo Brown for another day.

• Backup power forward Dante Cunningham didn’t play after he missed Sunday’s practice and Monday’s shootaround because of what Adelman called those “flulike symptoms.”

 

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