The Timberwolves introduced rookies Karl-Anthony Towns and Tyus Jones as well as something of a remade team with an open, free scrimmage Monday night at Target Center that presented everybody among their training-camp participants except for starting point guard Ricky Rubio.
Wolves interim head coach Sam Mitchell said Rubio’s absence from the Black team’s 68-54 victory over the White was purely precautionary after Rubio missed the past couple of practices because of what Mitchell called a quadriceps strain.
The team’s training staff deemed the strain minor, and Mitchell said it’s best to be careful this early in the preseason.
Mitchell said Rubio probably wouldn’t play in Wednesday’s preseason opener vs. Oklahoma City at Target Center if he doesn’t practice Tuesday.
“It just doesn’t make sense this early in the preseason,” Mitchell said. “Our goal is to start the season healthy. We’d at least like to start the season healthy. That was always my goal as a player. You want to start the season healthy. You don’t want to start that uphill climb hurting. It’s just too early to run him out there.”
Black outscores White
Mitchell split the camp roster into two teams for Monday’s scrimmage, roughly putting what looked something like a starting lineup perhaps on a Black team that included Kevin Garnett, Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine, Towns, Jones (for Rubio) as well as European newcomers Nemanja Bjelica and Damjan Rudez.
Towns and Rudez led the Black team with 13 points each. LaVine had 11 points, five assists and four rebounds for. Gorgui Dieng had 13 points, Lorenzo Brown 12 points and Adreian Payne had 11 points and 11 rebounds for the White.
“I thought we did a lot of good things,” Mitchell said. “We’ve still got a long way to go. I like the way the guys were passing, setting screens, moving, getting up and down the court. It’s still training camp and we’re still learning.”
Jones made a couple of three-pointers during an 11-point, three-rebound, two-assist night for the Black team that showed he’s adjusting to the longer three-point distance in the NBA.
“Now it’s not as far because I’m getting used to it,” Jones said. “It’s definitely an adjustment that has to take place. It’s definitely a lot farther than the college three. It’s something that takes awhile to get used to. I’m still getting used to it.”
Now in America
Bjelica and Rudez both impressed with their court sense and the way the move the ball when each has it and the way both move without it. Mitchell called Bjelica “sometimes unselfish to a fault.”
Said Bjelica: “That was first, if I can say, game. We play between us but it was first time I feel the court, I feel the gym, spacing, everything. I felt good on the court and nothing. I just need to keep improving, that’s it.”