CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The NBA announced its Eastern and Western Conference players of the week on Monday, just moments before the Timberwolves took the floor for a Martin Luther King Day matinée.
It took Wolves guard Mo Williams a bit longer to learn he won it in the West.
“Flip told me, at halftime actually,” Williams said, referring to coach Flip Saunders.
Williams won the same award Atlanta’s Al Horford claimed in the East partly because of a scoring outburst that included his career-high and franchise-record 52 points he scored in a victory at Indiana last Tuesday.
But Williams probably won it more because of his team’s 2-1 record in three games last week, including the victory at Indiana that ended a 15-game losing streak.
He averaged 30.3 points, 6.3 assists and 39.8 minutes with his 32-year-old body.
“It’s great to win it,” Williams said, “but the good thing about it is if you win that award, it means your team won some basketball games. That means the most right now.”
This is the first time Williams has won the award in his 13 NBA seasons. He is the seventh Wolves player to do so. Kevin Garnett won it 15 times, Kevin Love and Al Jefferson twice.
The waiting game
Injured Wolves veterans Kevin Martin and Nikola Pekovic remained sidelined Monday. Saunders said both might return this week, possibly by Wednesday’s home game against Dallas.
Martin missed his 30th game in a row because of wrist surgery on his shooting hand and said Monday he hasn’t quite yet reached the comfort level needed to play with it.
“I’ve just got to get used to playing with it,” he said. “I know it’s going I’m going to have to play with some soreness for some time. One or two more practices.”
Point guard Ricky Rubio remains the furthest away of the three Wolves players who have been sidelined by injuries since November. Saunders said Rubio, still out since spraining his ankle Nov 7, might begin practicing again by week’s end. He would then probably need at least another week before he’d be in game shape.
The Wolves signed center Miroslav Raduljica to a second 10-day contract. He has played very limited minutes — or in some cases, seconds — since signing that first 10-day deal.
Monday, he played three first-half seconds and the game’s final two ticking minutes.
“Not really,” Saunders said when asked if he has seen enough to form an opinion. “He does some things. He’s big. We wanted some size behind Gorgui [Dieng] just in case. We’ll know more about him when we get back this week and he can bang a little more against Pek in practice situations.”
Beyond the 12th Man
Rookie guard Zach LaVine considers himself more of an Raiders fan than a Seahawks supporter, but that didn’t stop Seattle’s own from reveling in his hometown team’s dramatic NFL playoff comeback victory over the Packers on Sunday.
“I’m not the biggest Seahawks fan, but when you’re from Seattle you have to show your support,” LaVine said. “That was a crazy game. I was into it. It was great.”
• About 50 family members and friends attended Monday’s game to see rookie Andrew Wiggins, whose father, Mitchell, is from North Carolina. “It kind of is,” Wiggins said when asked if this was a home game for him.
• Former Kings coach Mike Malone will remain with the Wolves probably through Wednesday’s game. Saunders said he doesn’t expect Malone, fired last month, to assume a role with the team beyond this visit.
• Wolves forward Shabazz Muhammad missed his fifth consecutive game because of a strained outer oblique muscle.
• Jefferson returned to the Hornets lineup after missing nine games due to a groin injury. He came off the bench for the first time in 544 NBA games, dating to a 2006 game against Chicago when he played for Boston.
• Wolves assistant coach Sidney Lowe received a smattering of applause after the P.A. announcer welcomed back one of the original Hornets from their inaugural 1988-89 team.