Wolves host the Lakers...Jefferson is again excused from practice for personal reasons...Love felt "a lot more energized" after starting...Brewer on improvement...Kahn giving players PowerPoint presentations for improvement...
Previews for tonight's game against the Lakers
Timberwolves coach Kurt Rambis was not optimistic that the team will have leading scorer Al Jefferson for tonight's game against the Los Angeles Lakers at Target Center.
Jefferson, averaging 17.4 points and 9.3 rebounds, was granted an excused absence on Tuesday to deal with a personal matter. The 6-foot-10 forward missed the Wolves' past two practices and Wednesday night's home game against Golden State.
Rambis said he was hopeful Jefferson would rejoin the team for tonight's game but added, "I'm not counting on it."
"It's a personal family matter," Rambis added. "His absence is still excused. It's an acceptable reason why he's missing practice and games."
If Kevin Love appeared a little extra motivated during Wednesday's loss to the Warriors, if he seemed more active around the basket and animated on the floor, it wasn't a coincidence. Al Jefferson's absence allowed Love to reclaim, albeit temporarily, a spot in the Wolves' starting lineup.
And despite 10 weeks of insisting that he's OK with coming off the bench, Love couldn't hide his delight at escaping the second unit.
"It definitely got me going. You've got energy, your legs are warm, you're feeling good when you start," said Love, who spent 35 minutes on the floor for just the second time since Jan. 11. "I was a lot more energized."
It's the closest the 21-year-old forward has come to admitting that losing his starting job bothered him.
From TrueHoop: Corey Brewer on improvement
What was the low point?
"Probably last year when I got hurt. My rookie year, I couldn't throw it in the ocean. I was shooting about 20 percent my first few months. I was real down. Last year when I got hurt, it was even worse. I felt like I was finally playing defense. I came up with a good game or two. Then I got hurt.
"It's a bit leap to now. A lot of confidence now. People thought I might be a huge bust. Now we're talking about the Most Improved Player."
Who did you talk to when you were down?
"My brother, he helped me a lot. Then my two teammates. Joakim and Al. Last year, I used to talk to them a lot. I used to call them for love. They'd tell me, 'Oh, you know, it's all right. You'll be all right. They'll learn about you. Keep your head up.'"
Beginning next week, Kahn will conduct exit interviews with players and present them with PowerPoint presentations for individual improvement.
"I expect many of them, voluntarily — for lack of a better term — to work themselves to death this summer," the Wolves president for basketball operations said this morning. "To the extent that we can help them, we will."
The Wolves are 15-63 heading into Friday night's game against the Los Angeles Lakers at Target Center.
"There are certain things you're allowed (by NBA rules) to do, and there are certain things that you're not allowed to do during the summertime, and we'll follow the rules to the 'T.' We'll be working with (players) every step of the way to the extent that the rules will allow us to do so."
Each PowerPoint analysis is tailored to the player, prepared by virtually every part of the Wolves organization, including medical and training staff.
The Timberwolves are again offering their "Pay The Pick" ticket plan
From Benjamin Polk/City Pages: Timberwolves fall historically
From John Hollinger/ESPN: Meet the NBA's ball hogs
Al Jefferson, Timberwolves
I realize it's the Wolves and somebody has to shoot on this gawdawful team, so I'd be willing to overlook the combination of subpar TS% (52.4) and high usage rate (22.5). But c'mon big fella, would it kill you to pass out of a double-team once in a while?
Jefferson is the unofficial league leader in post-ups that begin with him thinking "Let me just see if I can split this double before I try to kick it out" and end with him trapped by two men against the baseline. He's making progress of a sort -- his abysmal assist ratio (8.9) is a new career high -- but it's going much, much slower than hoped.
From Travis Heath/Hoopsworld: Grading The West
Minnesota Timberwolves - If there is one team in the Western Conference that really deserves a grade of "Incomplete" it's probably the Wolves. New president David Kahn has made it no secret the team is in full rebuilding mode and that it will be a relatively slow process. With that out of the way, most observers expected Minnesota to win at least 20 games this season. What this means is that the Wolves didn't perform quite up to their capabilities this season -- albeit with a roster that arguably has the least talent from top-to-bottom in the league. Grade: D
Upcoming: I'll be on WJON at 7:15 a.m. Friday, then on am-1500 at 7:45 a.m. Looks like I'll be filling in for Pat and Joe on Saturday Morning Sports Talk on am-1500 at 10 a.m., then on Sunday we have the Ron Gardenhire Show at 9:30 a.m., followed by Sunday Sports Talk at 10 a.m. Twins owner Jim Pohlad and FSN basketball analyst and Lynx assistant coach Jim Petersen will be among our guests, and Timberwolves forward Corey Brewer should be joining us on either Saturday or Sunday.