PORTLAND, Ore. – The night before he flies to Los Angeles to visit a hand specialist for a second opinion, injured Timberwolves guard Kevin Martin put himself and his fractured left thumb through a pregame workout for the first time since he was injured at New Orleans three weeks ago.
Until Sunday, all he had done was stand still while he shot. Before a game at Portland, he taped up his thumb — no splint — and tried catching and shooting as if he were coming off a teammate’s screen.
“It all felt fine out there,” he said. “It felt good. It felt better than what it has been lately … I’m just learning how I’m going to have to catch the ball because it will be hurting for a while.”
Martin missed his fifth consecutive game Sunday. Wolves centers Nikola Pekovic and Ronny Turiaf also remained out, while the Blazers played on without injured All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge and fellow big men Joel Freeland and Meyers Leonard.
Martin is hoping to play sometime during the remaining three games on a five-game trip that ends next Monday at Denver. He will rejoin the team in Phoenix — site of Tuesday’s game against the Suns — on Monday night.
New guys, new roles
With their top two centers and Martin out, Wolves youngsters Gorgui Dieng, Shabazz Muhammad and Robbie Hummel filled prominent roles on the team’s second unit after also doing so Saturday in Utah. Adelman relied upon all three during a second quarter Sunday, when the team’s second unit maintained a double-digit lead, a rare occurrence most of this season.
Dieng scored a career-high six points before halftime in Salt Lake City and Muhammad delivered his first NBA dunk, on a startling one-handed dunk of J.J. Barea’s lob pass that quickly made its way onto the Internet.
“I saw it replayed a couple times so I just watched it because you can’t really watch a dunk while you’re dunking it,” Muhammad said.
“So I had to see it on YouTube and it was pretty cool … I didn’t think I was going to get it. I didn’t look at the rim really and it was kind of a high pass. But I caught it, so I was happy about that.”
Standing by his guy
The last time the Wolves visited Portland, Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts playfully addressed a debate over which team has the NBA’s best power forward by saying he has the best with Aldridge and the Wolves have the second-best with Kevin Love.
One night after Love delivered his first career triple-double at Utah, Stotts was asked if he’s sticking with his story.
“Well,” he said, “they have the best one tonight.”
Stotts was back in a tasteful suit Sunday night after he wore a plaid, pale blue-and-yellow 1970s sport coat Friday against Utah to celebrate former Blazers legendary coach Jack Ramsay’s 89th birthday.
The coat was bought on eBay and altered to fit him.
“Putting it on wasn’t the problem, walking out there was the problem,” Stotts said.