Jerry Zgoda missed the entire Kevin Garnett era, but he's back covering the Timberwolves after working the beat for their first four seasons two decades ago. In between, he covered a bit of everything: Gopher men's and women's basketball and NCAA athletics, golf, outdoor recreation, sports media and a little Vikings and Twins.
The Wolves are back home tonight, 24 hours after thumping the Pistons in Detroit 121-94.
Tonight, they've got Philadelphia in the second half of back-to-back games.
Before the game, Rick Adelman gave updates on injured Ronny Turiaf and Chase Budinger, both of whom remain out.
On Turiaf's fractured elbow, Adelman said, "He's not there at all yet. It's just healing a lot slower than they anticipated. It's just a slower process the doctors thought and he thought. He's getting better, but I think it will be a while yet."
He said he didn't know who'd return first, which is a surprising because I -- and others -- had assumed Turiaf will be back before Budinger, who coming off a second knee surgery.
"We're hoping Chase can practice the next couple weeks and then we'll see where he goes from there," Adelman said. "Right now, they're both unknown."
This was just like the good old days, Kevin Martin said.
Martin, the Wolves’ starting shooting guard, whose 12-point second quarter sparked the Wolves to victory Tuesday here in Auburn Hills, was talking about the first couple weeks of the season, when the Wolves were moving the ball, cutting hard off picks, scoring points.
“The whole team was in rhythm tonight,” Martin said. “We were sharing the ball. It’s been a while. We looked like the team we were in the first two and a half weeks of the season tonight.’’
On a night when Kevin Love, in his first game back since the death of his grandmother, stole the show, the rest of the Wolves did their part, too. Here are some thoughts on the game:
--All five starters scored in double figures tonight.
--Nikola Pekovic got the better of Andre Drummond tonight, in a big way, with 18 points and five rebounds.
--Martin, himself, had another strong game. He had 18 points, made all five of his free throws and had four steals.
--Five players had at least three assists tonight, one reason the team had 31 of them on 41 made field goals. And only 13 turnovers.
--Ricky Rubio had a very strong night. He scored 15 points on 5-for-9 shooting, hit one of two three-pointers, had nine assists and no turnovers. It was his first zero-turnover game of the season.
--The bench scored a relatively whopping 33 points, with J.J. Barea getting 10 points and six assists in 17:09 of playing time.
That’s about it. Have a good night. Jerry will be with the team tomorrow
Greetings from the Palace of Auburn Hills, a misnomer if there ever was one.
This should be a very entertaining game for basketball fans who like to see two good frontcourts going at it.
The Wolves combination of Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic vs. Detroit’s Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe. This should be a good one.
Drummond is averaging 13.5 points and 13.0 rebounds and is shooting 63.5 percent from the field. Monroe averages 14.2 and 9.0. On the other side you have Love (23.7 and 13.6) and Pekovic (15.7 and 8.4). Drummond is the kind of tall, athletic opponent that Pekovic sometimes struggles with. But Drummond doesn’t have Pekovic’s bulk.
Given the Wolves’ recent troubles protecting the paint, it will be interesting to see how hard they pack the paint. Before the game Wolves coach Rick Adelman said he has been preaching that concept for a while now and it hasn’t worked. I believe the frontcourts will determine tonight’s outcome.
--Backup Pistons guard Chauncey Billups, who hasn’t played since Nov. 12 with knee soreness, will return tonight to face his former team.
--Rodney Stuckey, who has been battling left knee soreness, will not play.
That’s about it for now. I’ll get back to you after the game
AUBURN HILLS, MI. -- Kevin Love will return to action tonight when the Wolves play the Pistons here at the Palace tonight. But his mind is still back home.
Love and the Wolves were in Mexico City last Wednesday, getting ready for a game against the San Antonio Spurs that never happened, when word came that his maternal grandmother, Carol Lee Craig, had died.
Love left for Oregon shortly after the Wolves returned to Minnesota, where he remained until returning to the team this week. But, he said, real closure hasn’t happened yet. Craig grew up next door to Love and helped raise him.
“She was there the day I was born,” Love said. “She lived right next to me my whole life. It was a little weird going home and not seeing her.”
Craig, who was 83, had planned on traveling to Minnesota over Thanksgiving to watch Love play, but had to stay home because of health issues.
“We’re all getting together, as a family, after the Clippers game,” Love said of the Wolves game in Los Angeles Dec. 22, just before Christmas. “Because my whole family is from Southern California, except for my immediate family. So I’ll see everyone then.’’
--On a brighter note, tonight’s game will revive a long-standing but good-natured rivalry for Love when he plays against Kyle Singler for the first time. The two, both standout basketball players in Oregon, first met Singler in elementary school.
“I was from the northern part of Oregon, Portland, and he was from South Medford,” Love said. “So I remember seeing him for the first time and I said, ‘Oh, oh we’ve got a problem.’ ‘’
Well, yes and no. The two grew playing with each other on elite teams; the two were teammates on the Legends AAU team.
In 2006 Love’s Lake Oswego High School team beat Singler's ’s South Medford team for the Oregon State high school championship 59-57. Love had 24 points and nine rebounds in that game. A year later, in 2007, South Medford returned the favor, beating Love’s Lake Oswego team 58-54.
Love went to UCLA, played there one year – reaching the Final Four -- then entered the NBA draft. Singler went to Duke and was a four-year starter. He was named the NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player in 2010, when he led Duke to its fourth national title. Drafted in the second round of the 2011 draft, Singler played one year in Europe before joining the Pistons last season.
--That’s about it for now. I’ll get back to you before the game.
Kevin Love was back at practice today after missing Saturday's loss to Miami because of the death of his grandmother back in Portland.
He declined to talk to media members after today's practice at Target Center, but is headed with the team to Detroit this afternoon for Tuesday's game there against the Pistons.
"He's fine," Wolves coach Rick Adelman said. "He went through the whole practice and seems good."
Also today, the NBA announced overnight that it has fined Corey Brewer $5,000 for what it deemed a flop against Miami and LeBron James Saturday night.
Brewer hit arms with James as both went up for a rebound and Brewer bounced away, his arms flailing from the contact.
He had already been warned once this season, so got fined $5K for this transgression and will be fined $10K if he penalized for another.
Here's the video of it if you haven't seen it, so decide for yourself...
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