PHILADELPHIA – Timberwolves reserve center Ronny Turiaf returned Monday night in Philadelphia to play his first NBA game in more than two months, delivering 22-plus minutes and a little bit of soul to his team after his body survived the shock of the first 90 seconds.
Sidelined by an elbow injury since the season’s second game, Turiaf delivered nine rebounds, two blocks and an assist after his lungs shouted at him some in his first game action since a Nov. 1 victory over Oklahoma City.
“After the first minute and a half, I felt pretty good,” he said. “Obviously, I just have to get in better conditioning, just keep going. I just tried to play the game the right away, just making sure my teammates were getting open shots by setting good screens and moving the ball and playing defense.”
Coach Rick Adelman played Turiaf with the starters briefly late in the third quarter and with a second unit in desperate need of a boost the rest of the game. Turiaf didn’t score, missing his only shot, but he helped his teammates do so. The Wolves got 47 points from its bench after the team’s reserves scored only five points in two of three games last week.
Teammate Kevin Love cheered Turiaf on in the 3½ minutes they played together at the end of the third quarter, obviously happy to have him back.
“I definitely felt appreciated,” Turiaf said. “It felt good to become welcomed back, to see your teammate happy, see your teammates excited for you. That’s what this team sport is all about. I appreciate it, thank you Kevin.”
One more to go
Injured forward Chase Budinger’s return will wait at least one more game. He didn’t join Turiaf in returning to action Monday, but remains close to doing so.
What might it to do to solve the Wolves’ bench issues when both return healthy?
“It’s certainly going to help us,” Adelman said. “Chase should give us some shooting and Ronny is just a very smart player. Both ends of the court it will help us.”
The Wolves have until Tuesday afternoon to waive veteran A.J. Price and/or rookie Robbie Hummel or have their non-guaranteed contracts guaranteed for the rest of the season.
They could waive one or both and still sign the player to a 10-day contract or release him outright.
• Sixers forward Thaddeus Young was named the East’s Player of the Week for averaging 25 points and eight rebounds in a 3-0 week way out West. He scored 20 points Monday.
Rookie teammate Michael Carter-Williams won the award the first week of this season. The first time the teams played last month at Target Center, Carter-Williams was injured. On Monday he recorded 13 points, seven assists and four rebounds.
• Luc Mbah a Moute missed his second consecutive game because of an injured groin.
• Wolves center Nikola Pekovic laughed heartily during a timeout at two fans right behind the bench who bounced oversized, cut-out photos of his head throughout the game.
“When you look at those heads and then you hold them up close to him, they’re about the same size,” Love quipped.
• NBA TV will carry Shabazz Muhmammad’s D-League debut live from the league’s Reno, Nev., Showcase at 2:40 p.m. Tuesday Twin Cities time.