Chase Budinger feeling 'like more of myself' again after 19-point game
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MINNEAPOLIS -- The journey towards rediscovering his pre-injury form has been a long, sometimes frustrating, process for Minnesota Timberwolves forward Chase Budinger.
But Budinger hit a major milestone Saturday, despite the Wolves' 117-110 loss to the Portland Trailblazers.
Plugged into the starting lineup for the first time this season, with guard Kevin Martin sidelined due to injury, Budinger rolled to a 19-point outing -- his highest scoring total in two years. It also came on a night he logged 29 minutes -- his longest stretch of playing time since prior to suffering through back to back knee injuries.
"It felt good," Budinger said afterward. "I felt like more of myself today. Hopefully this is just a stepping stone for me, and I can just keep improving."
Budinger has worked to get back into game shape and reestablish his range of the motion that has been hindered by his knee issues. Gradually, he is looking more and more like the slick-shooting swingman that garnered a three-year, $15 million contract from the Wolves.
Budinger hit a trio of 3-pointers against the Trailblazers. It was only his second time doing so in a two-season stretch.
A boost in minutes is likely to keep coming Budinger's way, at least for the Wolves' next few games. Martin is "out indefinitely" with a fractured thumb on his non-shooting hand.
Budinger's teammates were excited for the aftereffects a game like his on Saturday could have on the rest of his season.
"He's not a 100 percent yet really, but he's getting there. Tonight proved he's getting his stroke back," forward Corey Brewer said. "It gives him some confidence. We want him to make a couple (shots). When he sees a couple go in that means a lot."