Wolves' schedule softens up

  • Article by: JERRY ZGODA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 27, 2013 - 2:05 PM

The Timberwolves went back to work Thursday, presumably putting behind them Sunday’s overtime loss to the Clippers in Los Angeles and moving onto an upcoming stretch starting Friday against Washington where the schedule cannot be a crutch.

Starting Friday, the Wolves play eight of their next 12 games at home and only four of those will come against teams with winning records.

Their three-game home stand next week that starts Monday against Dallas will be the first time they will be play consecutive home games since the week before Thanksgiving.

That was five weeks ago.

“We definitely need to get back to our winning ways,” Wolves star Kevin Love said. “We need to win at home. This is where we need to definitely make our push. We had a tough schedule that first month and a half. Now we need to really start winning. Hopefully we can make that happen.”

The Wolves are 13-15, and if the season ended Thursday they would have been three games behind Golden State for the final playoff spot.

In the next three weeks, the only teams they face with winning records are the Mavericks, Oklahoma City, Phoenix and San Antonio.

“We can’t look at it like that,” starting shooting guard Kevin Martin said. “We have to realize all these teams can play. We can beat anybody in this league. We just have to be ready every night and just play our game. We realize the true NBA season starts now. That’s how it was two years in the lockout season. That’s what everybody says every year: You get them games on Christmas Day, that’s when it all starts.”

The Wolves are 8-4 at home and 5-11 on the road.

Coach Rick Adelman gave his players Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday off and they reconvened at Target Center on Thursday for a nearly two-practice late in the afternoon. They haven’t played since Sunday, when they led the Clippers by four points in the final 18 seconds of regulation time and lost in overtime.

When asked if he and his team needed all of those days off to get over Sunday’s defeat, Love said, “I’m not going to get over that one for a while.”

Road to recovery

Wolves swingman Chase Budinger again practiced with his teammates Thursday for the third time in a week, but Adelman said the veteran swingman is not ready yet to play a game. Budinger hasn’t played a game this season. He underwent knee surgery in October, the second in 10 months on his torn meniscus.

“He says he feels fine, but he’s going through training camp basically,” Budinger said. “His whole body is sore, but he’s moving OK. So hopefully, gradually he’ll get better.”

Adelman also said he expects injured center Ronny Turiaf to participate in some contact portions of practice —not full 5-on-5 scrimmaging , though — in the next few days.

Turiaf has not played since he sustained a radial head fracture in his right elbow in the season’s second game, Nov. 1 against Oklahoma City.

Etc.

• Martin on a rare three-day break for Christmas: “First time in a long time I got to enjoy some time with the family. Best Christmas I’ve ever had.”

• The second round of All Star Game balloting results are in: Love is fourth among Western Conference frontcourt players and Ricky Rubio is ninth among guards.

• Love on getting Budinger back in practice: “He just gives us another dynamic, another guy who can shoot the ball. He’s one of those guys in the league where it’s a flick of the wrist and more often than not, it’s going to go in.

‘‘The sooner we can have him back and also being smart about it, the better for our team.”

• The start time for the Wolves’ Jan. 8 home game against Phoenix has been moved to an 8:30 pm tip and now will be carried by ESPN.

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  • After Friday’s home game against Washington and a trip to Milwaukee on Saturday, the Wolves open a three-game homestand Monday when Dallas and star Dirk Nowitzki (41) visit. The stretch will mark the first time the Wolves have played consecutive home games since the week before Thanksgiving.

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