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.

Gomes Endures Practice, May Play Tuesday

Posted by: under Wolves practice news Updated: December 21, 2009 - 7:52 PM

 

Ryan Gomes took part in all aspects of the Wolves’ practice on Monday, and might be ready to play again Tuesday night. But the effects of a sprained left ankle, which has kept Gomes in street clothes for the past four games, aren’t completely gone, coach Kurt Rambis said.
“He doesn’t look 100 percent to me,” Rambis said. “Starting, stopping, cutting, stepping back – those hard angle things” are still difficult for Gomes.
Still, the coach isn’t ruling out the forward’s return against Atlanta. “He went through practice OK, so now we’ll just have to see how he feels tomorrow,” Rambis said. “That’s the real test.”
Even if Gomes can play, it didn’t sound like Rambis is inclined to put him back in the starting lineup until he’s sure about his condition, particularly with back-to-back games coming up. Just a guess, but figure on Damien Wilkins remaining a starter for at least one more game.
A couple of other notes from practice:
 
-- Speaking of that back-to-back, this week’s schedule is another one of those instances where you wonder if the NBA owns a map. The Wolves made the three-hour flight to Boston for Saturday’s game, and they will practically repeat the trip a couple of hours after Tuesday’s home game, heading to New Jersey for a Wednesday game.
Wouldn’t it make a lot more sense for the Tuesday and Wednesday games to be flipped, so the Wolves could have remained on the east coast, perhaps catch a train to New Jersey, play the Nets then return home to face Atlanta? That’s two flights instead of four, and a lot more relaxed pace. Might even help them play better.
 
-- Rambis worked his team hard on Monday, with a practice that was supposed to end around 2 p.m. lasting instead until 3:15. But the Wolves might as well get used to it, because their coach loved punishing himself in practice like few other players.
While smiling at some of the grumbling being done by his players over all the work, Rambis talked about his playing days with the Lakers, when he always looked forward to the end of practice – so the real work could begin. Some of the Lakers would frequently stick around after practice to scrimmage, two-on-two or three-on-three. They’d go for hours, the coach said.
And if his teammates wouldn’t stay, he could always count on fellow power forward Mitch Kupchak, now the Lakers’ general manager. “We’d really beat each other up, just pound on each other,” Rambis said.
The best part? The stakes of their one-on-one games were several additional sprints up and down the floor.
By the winner.
Yep, Rambis and Kupchak loved working so much, loved “taking every opportunity to make ourselves better,” as he put it, that the loser would have to rest while the winner ran laps, taunting the loser all the way.
I wonder how many of today’s Timberwolves possess the same work ethic.

     -- PHIL MILLER

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