ORLANDO – All shooters experience slumps and in 12 NBA seasons, Timberwolves guard Kevin Martin has endured more than a few. But he can’t remember one quite like this one.
“You know what? It’s the toughest math equation I’ve ever tried to solve my whole life,” he said. “I’m stunned like everyone else. I don’t know what’s going on.”
Martin shot 45.7 percent from the field in his first four games but just 33.9 percent in his past six after going 3-for-7 Wednesday and finishing with 12 points in 21 minutes.
“As a scorer all these years, I’ve been through slumps where after a couple of games, I dig myself out of it,” he said. “But I’ve never been in a slump where our GM [Milt Newton] is hitting me up, asking me about it. We’re all just waiting for the track record to kick in. We’re all stunned, I’m stunned. But I’ll get out of it.”
Wolves interim coach Sam Mitchell would help, but he doesn’t know where to start with a veteran whose shooting stroke is as unique to basketball as Jim Furyk’s swing is to golf.
“Like I tell him all the time, I wish I could tell him something, but he’s just got one of those shots,” said Mitchell, who played Martin for 23 minutes Tuesday at Miami for his defensive effort and not his 2-for-11 shooting. “I wouldn’t even dare try telling him what to do. He’s unlike anybody I’ve ever seen.”
Sore Rubio plays on
Mitchell rested Kevin Garnett on the second night of back-to-back games, but point guard Ricky Rubio started and played regularly even though he said he was “sore” after Tuesday’s return in Miami. He returned Wednesday to Amway Center, where he severely sprained his ankle a year ago this month.
He said Tuesday that he’s not 100 percent, but needs to help his team. “I don’t know,” Rubio said when asked how close to fully healthy he is. “I can’t tell, it goes by feeling. I know sometimes it’s more mental when you get hurt: You don’t want to get hurt again, so you go a little slower. But like I said, I’m ready to help my team.”
Martin played his final season in Houston when former Wolves exec Kevin McHale coached his first one there. McHale was fired by the 4-7 Rockets on Wednesday only 11 games into the season, with $12 million still owed him through 2018.
“Very surprising,” Martin said. “They’re 11 games removed from the Western Conference finals. It just shows you how fragile this game can be sometimes.”
• Adreian Payne started for Garnett at power forward.
• Wolves rookie Karl-Anthony Towns when asked if an opponent ever blocked 10 shots against his team, as Miami’s Hassan Whiteside did Tuesday: “You know what? I don’t know because I was usually the one getting the 10 blocks.”
• The Magic held a moment of silence before their first game since Friday’s Paris terrorist attacks. Orlando guard Evan Fournier was raised in suburban Paris. He hit the game-winning three-pointer in overtime to beat the Wolves 104-101.