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.
“It has been a really tough season so we have to celebrate these special moments even a little bit more,” Taylor said. “I know it’s really meaningful to the players and the other coaches as well as Rick. It’s meaningful to me to see the satisfaction on his face and his family’s face because of all the things they’ve been through this year.
“I think we’re close, but it’s easy to stick by them because they’re wonderful people. It’s not a chore at all to support them.”
So long ago
Adelman’s first NBA victory came in February 1989, so long ago that not only were Ricky Rubio and Derrick Williams not born yet, but the Wolves still were nine months away from playing the franchise’s first game.
“A long time,” Taylor said. “Why is it so important? Because it has taken a long time and he has put in a lot of work, a lot of effort and a lot of knowledge to help a lot of players.”
• Adelman gave the team both Sunday and Monday off after Saturday’s victory. The Wolves will fly to San Francisco on Monday afternoon before playing at Golden State on Tuesday night.
• Rubio injured his left shoulder in a third-quarter collision with Pistons guard Brandon Knight and had it wrapped with an ice bag after Saturday’s game. Asked if the shoulder will be all right, he said, “I hope so.”
• President of basketball operations David Kahn consoled rookie guard Alexey Shved at his locker after Saturday’s game, when he played only 3 minutes, 41 seconds. That’s the least he has played when he has played this year. He played eight minutes on Friday against Toronto and clearly is struggling down the stretch in his first 82-game NBA season.