DENVER – Timberwolves forward Corey Brewer visited with former Nuggets teammates and signed autographs before Friday’s game for fans who once cheered for him.
Brewer didn’t exactly consider it going home, but he nonetheless spent the past two seasons playing in Denver before signing with the Wolves as a free agent last summer.
When he returned Friday, so much had changed: Nuggets General Manager Masai Ujiri is gone to Toronto. George Karl was fired after winning 57 games and Coach of the Year honors, replaced by Brian Shaw. Andre Iguodala signed with Golden State.
And, of course, Brewer is back in Minnesota with the team that drafted him in 2007 and flourishing: With Kevin Martin out ill, he scored 27 points in Wednesday’s victory over Cleveland. That was two shy of his career high reached with the Nuggets last season.
“It’s amazing,” Brewer, who scored 11 points in the Wolves’ 117-113 loss Friday, said of the change. “I’m happy. I loved Denver. The Denver fans are great. But right now, we’re trying to get to the playoffs here.”
“It felt good, I wished I could have played better,” Brewer said afterward about a return in which he fumbled the ball away more than once had three turnovers and scored just 11 points. “It’s tough when you lose, no matter if it’s where you played before or just losing period.”
Martin returned after missing Wednesday’s victory over Cleveland. He said he began feeling much better while watching Wednesday’s second half, a blowout victory in which rookie Robbie Hummel started in Martin’s spot.
“The team made me feel a lot better,” he said. “It just shows we’re a deep team. We dealt with that with Chase [Budinger’s knee injury], the next man had to step up. When Ronny [Turiaf] went down, another guy had to step up. I wasn’t there and guys stepped up.”
Lights, camera …
Friday’s game was the first contest in ESPN’s Friday night doubleheader. Earlier Friday, ESPN began airing one of its NBA recreational vehicle promos, this one featuring Love and Rubio.
In it, Love is traveling in the RV along a lonesome road and comes across billboards featuring his likeness for a call-in telephone Love Line. When he calls to check it out, a Spanish voice answers the call. It’s Rubio in an office manning the phones, asking callers if they’re looking for love.
The spot was filmed a year ago. You can tell because Love is clean-shaven.
“He looks weird,” Rubio said, smiling.
Part I: Adelman said Turiaf is improving but remains sidelined until he gets full flexibility in that injured elbow.
Part II: Adelman said he expects injured swingman Budinger’s rehabilitation from October knee surgery will be monitored by team staff for a couple of weeks after he returns to Minnesota over the weekend. Depending on his progress, Adelman said Budinger could begin spending more time, including traveling on the road, around the team then.
• The Wolves have five players on the Western Conference All-Star ballot: Love, Rubio, Martin, Nikola Pekovic and somewhat oddly, Derrick Williams rather than Brewer. Voting began Friday.
• Shabazz Muhammad was not in uniform Friday after injuring his ankle in Wednesday’s fourth quarter. Williams did not get off the bench when Adelman went with Hummel at backup small forward.
Staff writer Kent Youngblood contributed to this report