This is actually La Velle E. Neal III, filling in for the basketball boys tonight at Target Center. Why did I sign up for this???????
Chase Budinger didn't appear at his locker before the game, but he appears to be getting closer and closer to returning to action after having his left knee scoped on Oct. 1. His case looks more interesting now that Thunder star guard Russell Westbrook is out again with more knee surgery. Westbrook also had surgery on Oct. 1 - to remove a loose stitch from surgery in April, when he tore his meniscus. While Westbrook rushed to return to the Thunder lineup, Budinger's recovery has been more deliberate.

Wolves coach Rick Adelman said before tonight's game that he thinks Budinger has a good chance to go the distance once he returns from his most recent surgery.

``He has a good chance of doing that because he's been through this already," Adelman said of Budinger, who was limited to 23 games by knee surgery last season. ``But you never know, with what happened with Westbrook. You just don't know about that situation. He's being cautious. He's been through it once before, so I think he knows that.

``He's been feeling good. His knee has felt good in practice, when he's practiced. But he's going through training camp so the rest of his body aches and his feet hurt and everything. He's just going through that phase where he hadn't had that yet.

``So we will just have to wait and see. The medical people will tell me when they think he is ready to go and then we will go from there."

The Wizards will be a tricky test for the Wolves, as they are starting to find their way under coach Randy Wittman, who Wolves fans know very well. Wittman said during the shootaround that his team is playing better defense and the backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal has played well.

Adelman is worried about fast break points because of the Wall-Beal backcourt,

``You can't let them get to the basket," he said. ``You've got to contain them. John Wall is one of the quickest guys in the league getting the ball up the court."