Wolves notes: Rookie big man Gorgui Dieng slowly adjusting to NBA game
Get the 1500 ESPN SportsWire delivered to your inbox daily, and keep up with all the news in Twin Cities Sports
MINNEAPOLIS -- Gorgui Dieng's welcome to the NBA has been filled with the sound of whistles.
Dieng, one of the Minnesota Timberwolves two 2013 first round draft picks, has already made highlight reels with his imposing blocking abilities, summed up by a thunderous swat of Golden State's Klay Thompson Wednesday night.
But in the limited minutes he seen so far in his rookie campaign, a glut of fouls have followed him. The 6-foot-11, 238-pound center has logged only 23 minutes in the Wolves' first five games, but he has been whistled for 10 fouls in three appearances to go with one point and two rebounds.
Fellow big man Nikola Pekovic has taken on a mentor role of sorts with Dieng, reassuring him he will reach his comfort zone in time.
Pekovic knows a thing or two about the struggles of adjusting to the NBA way of life as a center. As a rookie in 2010-11, Pekovic labored to find the balance between when to exert himself defensively and when to back off. He was tagged with 26 fouls in his first nine games, used mainly in a backup role.
"I've been in his situation," Pekovic said. "I know it's kind of frustrating. I always try to help him, try to teach him how to play against big guys ... He wants to show that he really belongs here. He's a really hard worker ... he'll need to figure out by himself, you know, that you can't be really aggressive all the time."
Dieng's adjustment is likely to be gradual, but he is also getting thrust into a more prominent role earlier than expected. Injured last Friday, veteran backup center Ronny Turiaf is out for the foreseeable future with a fractured right elbow, leaving the bulk of his minutes to Dieng.
After fighting through nerves and four fouls in 14 minutes in his season debut last Friday against Oklahoma City, Dieng said he is beginning to feel more at ease at game time. It helps the 23-year-old Senegal native is quick to soak in whatever advice his coaches or teammates have for him.
Pekovic has told him not worry about the foul troubles, and that is the mindset Dieng has maintained. But at the same time he isn't about to take the forceful edge out of his game.
"I'm not going to stop playing aggressive, but I just need to know my job," Dieng said. "If I don't play aggressive I don't need to be there. I'm just going to keep playing the way I've been playing, just adjust for foul trouble."
Dallas comes to Target Center
The Mavericks are in town with the 3-2 Wolves trying to make a strong rebuttal after an uninspired showing against Golden State Wednesday dropped them to their second straight loss.
Coach Rick Adelman was not a pleased man at Thursday's practice and let his team know it. The Wolves don't seem inclined to fall victim to the same stagnate problems on Friday night. Take it from guard Kevin Martin, Adelman's message has gotten through.
"He knows what buttons to push at what times in the year. I think he did that yesterday," said Martin, who has spent a large portion of his 10-year NBA career on Adelman-led squads. "We have to get back on track and get a big win tonight."
Forward Derrick Williams will miss Friday night's game against the Mavericks due to back spasms, the Minnesota Timberwolves announced just before game time.
Williams has logged around 22 minutes in four games this season. A scoreless, 0-of-6 outing against Golden State dropped his scoring average to 7.3 points.
Vince Carter suspended
Mavericks forward Vince Carter is 36 and in the 16th season of his rough and tumble Hall of Fame worthy NBA Career. But Friday will mark a first for Carter.
The NBA saddled Carter with a one-game suspension Friday morning - the first of his career - after he delivered an elbow to the head of Oklahoma City rookie Steven Adams' in Dallas' 107-93 loss on Wednesday. The blow resulted in a flagrant foul 2 and got Carter ejected from the game.
Carter has been serving in a sixth man role for the Mavericks this season, averaging 9.2 points, 2 assists and 2.4 rebounds in five games.
For the Wolves, it is one less thing they have to be concerned about.
"I think it helps," forward Kevin Love said. "He's a long-term effect guy, knows how to play, has been in (Rick) Carlisle's system. So not having him in there, it gives another guy a chance, but still Carter can get hot from three."
Dallas coach Rick Carlisle had high praise for Martin: "Martin is one of the best pure scorers there has been in this league in the last several years, and very underrated, I think."
Martin has fallen into a groove in his last three games, averaging 25.3 points and going a combined 12-of-18 from three-point range (66 percent).