Invariably, either well before a shootaround or individual pregame warm-ups, Nazr Mohammed will go to work with assistant coach Ed Pinckney.

It's all part of the 14-year veteran's plan to "take it back to basics," a strategy developed, interestingly enough, when Mohammed barely saw the court earlier this season.

"I stopped thinking about eight, nine or 10 minutes and started thinking about maximizing my minutes, even if I only played two," Mohammed said.

Mohammed logged 22 on Sunday, one night after playing a season-high 31 on Saturday as Joakim Noah stayed in Chicago to treat the plantar fasciitis in his right foot. Coach Tom Thibodeau called Noah day-to-day.

Mohammed grabbed 10 rebounds Sunday.

"Nazr has been solid the last month," Thibodeau said. "He's put a lot of work in. He's a big body who uses his size well. A lot of our driving opportunities are occurring because he's sealing his guy. He has all the tricks of the trade. They're little things. But they're important things."

Point, counterpoint: In his previous seven games before Sunday, Ricky Rubio averaged 14 points, 7.7 assists, 6.1 rebounds and 2.3 steals. He also had a triple-double.

That's a far cry from when Rubio, placed on a minutes limit, made his tentative season debut Dec. 15, just over nine months after tearing his ACL.

"He's much stronger now," Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman said. "He has more confidence in what he's doing. His conditioning is a lot better. It's just a process. He plays very hard. And that affected him when he first started coming back."