On Monday the Wolves won in Chicago against a Bulls team depleted by injuries, a problem magnified when starting center Joakim Noah was an injury-related scratch.
Ditto Wednesday night, when the Wolves finally pushed their way above .500 with a victory over an injury-depleted bunch of New Orleans Pelicans after rising star Anthony Randolph was a late scratch.
It will be far more difficult Friday when the Wolves host a Memphis team that, back to good health, is starting to make a serious run. The Grizzlies have won four straight – including home and away victories over Houston and a 17-point beating of the Blazers in Portland.
The Grizzlies have won nine of their last ten games.
Health? Center Marc Gasol, back after missing 23 games with a knee injury, has been a spark, with the Grizzlies going 7-1 since his return. Gasol and Memphis power forward Zach Randolph are a formidable pair, especially for a Wolves team without center Nikola Pekovic.
“They’ve proven the last two or three years they’re a really good team,” Wolves coach Rick Adelman said after Thursday’s practice. “They’re a playoff team. Without Gasol they struggled. But right now, they’ve had four really impressive wins. And they’ll defend us. They’re going to take things away from us. So it’s going to be a big challenge.’’
It doesn’t stop there. Memphis point guard Mike Conley – always a thorn in the Wolves’ side – is averaging a career-high 18.2 points per game along with 6.3 assists.
Six of the Grizzlies last eight opponents have failed to score 90 points. They will defend. And they will make it difficult for Kevin Love to get his shots. What can the Wolves do to counter that?
“There has to be more motion,” Adelman said. “Just more activity. [Wednesday] night it was the first game [Without Pekovic]. With Pek, they had to honor Pek all the time. And that would just naturally space the court for us. With Pek out now, if we post up Kevin, they’re going to double him. And so we have to have movement. Take it to one side, then come back.’’
Here are some other items from today’s practice:
--The players had a league-mandated meeting following practice.
--Adelman on Conley: “Conley is really good. He’s really good defensively. He’s got really good hands.’’
--Adelman likes the fact that Kevin Martin is getting more aggressive with his shot. But he still wants more. “I just think he continues to have to be more aggressive,” he said of Martin, who scored 18 points on 7-of-18 shooting Wednesday. Adelman wants Martin to be quicker with his shot. “I call it quicker taking his shot, and not massaging the ball. He’s got that explosiveness that, if he gets a step on a guy, he’s gonna get the shot off. I think he shoots better when he does that.’’
That’s about it for now. Jerry, back from his golfing adventure, will be covering the team tomorrow.