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Updated: January 17th, 2014 3:33pm
Wolves bench scoring on the rise since return of Turiaf, Budinger

Wolves bench scoring on the rise since return of Turiaf, Budinger

by Nate Sandell
1500ESPN.com
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The Minnesota Timberwolves may be currently stuck in a cycle of inconsistency, but that doesn't mean there aren't positives to be found.

Take a look at the bench. The return of Ronny Turiaf and Chase Budinger last week, after sitting out the first two months of the season due to injuries, has signaled a surge in offensive production from a reserve unit desperate for a boost.

In the five games since Turiaf reentered the lineup Jan. 6 at Philadelphia, 31 games after he fractured his right elbow, the Wolves bench has averaged 38 points off 42.9 percent shooting from the floor (75-of-175). It's good enough for the NBA's fourth highest scoring mark in that weeklong stretch.

Budinger made his season debut one game after Turiaf, just over three months after knee surgery. As he slowly finds his range again, he has helped the second unit shoot 40.4 percent from 3-point range (24-of-56) in the last week - a nearly 10 percent increase from their season average.

It's a small sample size, but still a good sign. Prior to Turiaf's return, the bench owned the second-lowest scoring average in the NBA at 23 points per game (38.7 percent). The Wolves have received 35 points or more from their bench in four of their last five games. That happened only five times in Minnesota's first 33 games.

Turiaf brings a constant of source energy to the bench the Wolves were sorely lacking. Plus, he adds another formidable presence in the rebound department. Meanwhile, Budinger's shooting range also helps increase Minnesota's offensive options.

The bench's upward trend hasn't resulted in an uptick in the win column (Wolves are 2-3 in their last five games), but it bodes well if the Wolves intend to break out of their slog around the .500 mark.

Nate Sandell is a contributor to 1500ESPN.com.
Email Nate | @nsandell
In this story: Chase Budinger, Ronny Turiaf
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