Adelman angry with some players after Wolves blown out in final game
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MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Timberwolves season came to a fitting conclusion in Thursday's 131-102 loss to the Denver Nuggets.
The game was perhaps the poorest effort from the Wolves this season as they looked largely disinterested, only staying within 20 points of the Nuggets for the opening minutes of the third quarter before the Nuggets opened things up and turned it into a laugher.
"To me, that is a statement game," coach Rick Adelman said. "A lot of people made a statement in that game that they were done playing and the season wasn't over yet. I don't understand the attitude; I don't understand how you can approach any job that way.
"Some guys made a statement, some guys made a big statement (Thursday)."
The Wolves trailed by as many as 32 in their final game of the season. Adelman has been saying for the past few weeks that he would be evaluating all of his players until the very end of the season. Adelman said Thursday's effort "reinforced" decisions he had already made in his head -- meaning players on the fringe did nothing to help their case to be back next season.
The Wolves finish the season 26-40 and with their highest win total since the 2006-07 season. But the year definitely ends with a sour taste in their mouths and a lot of work and roster shakeups to come this summer.
The highlight in an otherwise forgettable NBA contest was seeing Brad Miller play in his final game.
Miller capped his 14-year career by scoring 4 points off the bench in 18 minutes. His final field goal came in a 3-pointer with 7:18 left in the game. Miller kissed his hand and held up three fingers as he ran back on defense, likely knowing it would be his last NBA bucket.
Minutes later, Adelman -- who has coached Miller on three different teams -- pulled him out of the game for the final time in the fourth quarter to a standing ovation from the fans and hugs from all of his teammates. The usually stoic Miller was choked-up and cried as he sat down on an NBA bench for the final time in a career that saw him average 11.4 points and 7.4 rebounds per game.
"He is just terrific," Adelman said. "You hate to see him go out in game like that because that is not how he played. Even in the end of his career, he gave you everything he has. He is one of the most skilled big guys (I have ever coached)."
Miller celebrated with his teammates in the locker room afterwards.
"Very emotional, obviously," Miller said. "As soon as I talk about it, it gets me. I've been playing for 30 years so when it's time, it's time. My body isn't worth it anymore but I've still got heart."
Miller flew a friend in from Alaska for the game and said he had other friends drive in from Indiana to see their buddy play one last time.
The rest of the Wolves wanted to honor their teammate one last time, too. The majority of the players wore blue headbands -- a Miller trademark -- on the court and off, an idea spearheaded by Luke Ridnour. Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love each sported one while sitting behind the bench, a sign of respect from the stars of the team who picked the brain of the veteran all season long.
"That was fun," Miller said. "(Ridnour's) been talking about it quite a while. Even before he rolled his ankle he said 'I'm dressing (your final game) no matter what.' To see Luke in a headband is pretty damn funny I must say."
Miller had a mixture of tears in his eyes and a laugh in his voice while he spoke of his career ending, but needed a second to compose himself after he was asked about how much Adelman has meant to him.
"It's like a college coach," he said after regaining his composure. "I got to know him, his wife, his kids, his style. Everything we did together, we just wanted to win."
Adelman said he knew Miller didn't have much left in the tank but wanted him here because he was hoping some of Miller's work ethic and experience would rub off on some of the young guys and he could teach them a thing or two. Adelman said Miller did that every step of the way, taking guys aside, hoping to impose some wisdom on them from his career that started in Italy after going undrafted and had stops in seven different NBA cities.
The advice continued in the locker room even after his final game. While teammate Anthony Tolliver said he had no use for the stacks of basketball shoes piled up his locker, Miller told him to box them up and to put them in his garage.
"I am going to miss that guy," Tolliver said.
Pekovic schedules surgery
Nikola Pekovic has scheduled surgery for May 15 to clean up the bone spurs in his right ankle that have been causing him pain for the better part of the second half of the season.
Pekovic said he will stay in the Twin Cities for two weeks after the surgery to do follow-ups with his doctors to ensure he is on the path to recovery before heading home to Montenegro.
He will return to the States in time for July's Summer League in Las Vegas but will not be competing; rather working out with the team's training staff and being around his teammates.
Pekvoic said he will be ready with time to spare for training camp in October and is looking forward to hopefully playing without pain.
"You have no idea," he said.
The team will have their exit interviews in the coming days with Adelman and Kahn before taking off to their separate corners of the country for a few weeks before they start their summer training regimens. The young players will be in L.A. with Bayno and the veterans and free agents will likely train on their own.