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Updated: January 19th, 2014 7:34pm
Getting more consistency out of Kevin Martin critical for Wolves

Getting more consistency out of Kevin Martin critical for Wolves

by Nate Sandell
1500ESPN.com
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Kevin Love is the Minnesota Timberwolves' star and Nikola Pekovic is an anchor in the low post.

But if the Wolves are going to make a revitalized push for the playoffs in the second half of the season, coach Rick Adelman points to Kevin Martin as a critical piece of the puzzle.

"I just think for our team to be successful he has to be a guy we can rely on night in and night out," Adelman said Saturday prior to a much-needed 98-72 romp over the Utah Jazz that snapped the Wolves' three-game slide.

Martin has battled through streaks of inconsistency with his shot this season, as well as a brief stretch dealing with knee soreness.

The veteran guard, who signed with the Wolves last offseason, started the year with a flurry of production. In the first 21 games of the season, Martin was averaging 23.8 points (42 percent shooting, 142-of-338) and had converted on 49 of his 114 attempt from three-point range (43 percent).

But since Dec. 11, a range of 18 games, Martin's numbers have significantly ebbed and flowed. He has posted a 15.2 points (102-233) and one three-pointer (19) per game average.

The issue, Adelman said, is Martin has been less aggressive with his shot selection, allowing moments of hesitancy to win out.

"At halftime in Toronto (on Friday) he came up to me and said, 'Do you see anything?'" Adelman remarked postgame Saturday. "I said, 'Yeah, you're just not going into your shot. You're just kind of cruising into your shot, you're drifting on it, and you're hesitating.'"

Aggression wasn't much of an issue for Martin on Saturday. The Timberwolves were desperate for a boost, stumbling into the night losers in four of their previous five games. Martin, joining in with Pekovic and Love, provided the shot of life the team needed. The Wolves' "big three" combined for 65 of Minnesota's 79 points in the first three quarters.

Martin showed the threat he poses when he gets into a rhythm. The Wolves were already en route to pulling away from the wayward Jazz, but Martin scored 10 of his 20 points in the second quarter's final five minutes to lead Minnesota on a 20-4 run that made it a 28-point halftime lead.

The showcase of his ability to spark a scoring rally is a sight that needs to become more frequent for the Wolves.

"He's a guy when he gets an opportunity, he's got to shoot the ball," Adelman said. "I don't care if it's bad or if it's good, he's got to shoot the ball ... The only two people who can get on a run like that are probably the two Kevins ... If we get Kevin going again and get some confidence, I think he'll be fine. It'll really help us."

Nate Sandell is a contributor to 1500ESPN.com.
Email Nate | @nsandell
In this story: Kevin Love, Nikola Pekovic
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