Short Takes

Knock, knock…

New Memphis coach David Fizdale expected to get all emotional when the longtime Miami assistant worked his first game as an NBA head coach in Wednesday’s season-opening victory over the Wolves.

But he said he got all of that out of his system when his mother surprised him by flying in the night before the game and showed up unannounced after 9 p.m.

“I thought I had a delivery at the door, and it turned out to be my mom,” he said.

Fizdale and the Grizzlies visit Target Center on Tuesday, the Wolves’ home opener and the second of four games the two teams will play within a month.

Pop praises

San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich doesn’t answer many questions about the opposition, saying he has too much to worry about with his own team.

But he couldn’t help himself after his team beat Sacramento on Thursday in Dave Joerger’s second game as coach of the Kings after he coached three seasons in Memphis. Already he can see Joerger’s defensive thumbprint all over his new team.

“Coach Joerger is a hell of a coach,” Popovich said. “He’s got them playing defense already after one game because of the way they played defense in Memphis. That’s because he knows what he’s doing, obviously. That’s a tribute to those guys to pick that up and jump in. If they sustain that, they’re going to be a good basketball team.”

Closing words

ABC analyst Jeff Van Gundy on longtime friend Tom Thibodeau and the Wolves’ “legit” chances to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2004: “They have had such a long non-playoff streak, I think people forget what a good basketball town Minnesota and St. Paul are. I mean, they had it rock with Garnett, Cassell, Sprewell. It was a hard place to play, and I think that’s what they are heading back towards.”