Timberwolves coach Flip Saunders and forward Chase Budinger returned to the team for Tuesday’s practice, but they’re still suffering from the lingering effects of the flu.
Saunders was too sick to meet with the media after practice, while Budinger felt a little weak. Along with forward Robbie Hummel, who was not at practice, all three missed Monday’s loss to the Nuggets because of the illness.
“It’s been very rough; the flu got me, it got me good,” Budinger said. “It hit me hard one night, and it didn’t stop for about 72 hours. Last night, I finally got the best rest I’ve had in a couple days, and I’m starting to feel a little better today.”
Budinger wasn’t sure whether he’ll play Wednesday against the Suns.
“We’ll see how the rest of the day goes, how I feel [Wednesday],” Budinger said. “I was able to get through today and feel all right.”
If it wasn’t evident during the team’s current 12-game losing streak, rookie wing Andrew Wiggins said the Wolves have gone through some growing pains. The top overall pick isn’t an exception, either.
Nuggets guard Arron Afflalo dropped a season-high 34 points on 11-for-18 shooting against Wiggins, who struggled to defend the eight-year veteran.
“You can’t let players get comfortable,” Wiggins said. “He got comfortable, and he’s a good shooter. Once he got hot, he started shooting fadeaways, three-pointers, everything. It’s the NBA. Players are going to have those days.”
More shots from Dieng
With all the injuries and illnesses the Wolves have dealt with this season, center Gorgui Dieng — who tied his career-high 22 points against the Nuggets — has had a chance to receive an increase in playing time. He has taken 228 shots so far, one more than his total last year, and Dieng has averaged 50.9 percent from the field.
The bulk of his shots have still occurred less than five feet from the hoop, but the 6-11 Senegal native has hit 45.5 percent of his shots from 10 to 19 feet. It was an area of emphasis for Dieng to work on his jumper and extend his offensive game outside the paint.
“It’s something I’ve been working on all summer,” Dieng said. “If I can get the bank shot down, it’s an easy shot to make. … I just like it, like the way [Spurs forward] Tim Duncan makes the shot. When I play against those big guys, I always learn something from them. I really like that shot.”
Center Nikola Pekovic could receive an MRI on his ankle as early as Wednesday. He’s expected to undergo an MRI at some point this week as a checkup to an injury that’s sidelined him since November. If the MRI comes back clean, there’s a chance Pekovic could take the next step and return to practice.