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.

Bring on the season: Wolves score game's final 12 points, beat Bucks 85-84 in preseason finale

Posted by: Jerry Zgoda under Wolves injury report, Wolves players, Wolves postgame, On the road, Wolves news Updated: December 22, 2011 - 2:06 AM

 

 

This abbreviated two-game NBA preseason ended for the Timberwolves Wednesday night in Milwaukee with a very improbable 85-84 comeback victory over the Bucks that might have both meant nothing and a lot.

In the grand scheme of things, this comeback from 11 down with fewer than three minutes left won't long be remembered.

Anybody recall that preseason game the Wolves won at Bradley Center last season with Luke Ridnour's buzzer-beating -- at least I think it was buzzer beating, without looking it up -- three?

Didn't think so.

But still for a team that lost so many games it should have won last season, it's a good sign that they won one they had no busy winning, even if it's just preseason.

Wednesday's game did suggest a few other things:

* If you it wasn' t obvious already, this team is so much better coached, from its spacing and ball movement on offense to schemes and rotation on defense, than last year.

Tonight's game was ragged --Adelman mixed and matched lineups all night while giving longer looks to everyone from Malcolm Lee and Wayne Ellington to Bonzi Wells -- but still showed the makings of a team, particularly in that game-ending 14-2 run that included the game's final 12 points after he sent Kevin Love and Michael Beasley back in the game with fewer than five minutes left.

To get that kind of run, you need to play some defense -- and it did help the Bucks imploded, particularly after Love hit a three with 16 seconds left and Bucks forward Larry Sanders threw the ball away to Luke Ridnour to set up Beasley's game-winning free throws.

* Lee's going to earn time in Adelman's rotation -- whether it's sooner or later -- because of his defense and his ability play (and defend) both guard spots.

"He's got a future in this league," Adelman said. "He's a hard-nosed kid."

* While Adelman praised Lee's play -- 9 points on 3-for-6 shooting, 5 assists, 4 rebounds and 4 turnovers in 24 minutes -- he deferred a question about the play of Anthony Randolph, Ellington and Wells and said he'd have to look at the game film first.

* Adelman says he'd like to settle on a 9-man rotation preferably, maybe 10 guys at the most. The way it's looking from these two preseason games, Randolph's going to have a hard time cracking that rotation.

Adelman played him just a few minutes Saturday and then never got back to him after Randolph jacked quick shots in the offense, a major no-no in Adelman's system.

He played nearly 16 minutes tonight and again exhibited the same habits, particularly early.

His body language and disposition just seem awful right now.

* That smallish frontcourt that looked so lethal on Saturday -- Love at center, Beasley at small forward, Derrick Williams at power forward -- didn't get a look tonight.

In fact, Williams played just 15 minutes but don't be alarmed. I get the feeling Adelman was more concerned with keeping everyone as healthy as possibly and evaluating everyone in these two brief games than he was really figuring out his combinations and rotations.

Missing banged-up Ricky Rubio and J.J. Barea tonight didn't help.

"It puts you behind," Adelman said. "When you open against Oklahoma City and then got Miami, Dallas and San Antonio look at you -- plus this team (Milwaukee) on the road -- you're going to feel like you're behind anyway. It gives our other guys a chance to respond. We just have to keep remembering that we've got to try and figure out where we're going to go with this team fairly quickly.

"Obviously, nothing's going to be writtenin stone. We've just got to keep evaluating."

* So just where are they going with this team?

This quick preseason sure seems to say it's going to go wherever Love leads them. Of course, he's slimmed down from last season and even better so far than he was a year ago.

Just see the final two minutes tonight, when he scored 10 of those 14 points (Beasley had the other four) and had the huge three that brought the Wolves within one.

He's playing just so efficiently, 22 points (of course those 10 points in two minutes sure helped) and 16 rebounds in 27 minutes.

That's right, just 27 minutes.

Here's the story I wrote for Thursday's paper about the decision facing the Wolves here between now and Jan. 25.

Do they make contract-extension negotiations simple with Love and just offer him the five-year, maximum-contract deal.

On the one hand, he's not your classic franchise player, not a superstar that effortlessly can create his own shot any time he wants (as least not yet he isn't and probably never will be that kind of player).

But he's just such a unique player and still so young (23) and obviously the face of the franchise.

Check out the story here and read Adelman's comments.

It's seems pretty clear to me that he took the job largely because he envisioned coaching Love for a good while and will make his voice heard as this deadline ticks closer.

You find the story here.

What say you?

In a market where Marc Gasol, Nene and Tyson Chandler all got huge deals, do they just go ahead and pay Love the money now?

Do they try and haggle?

Do they wait and match any offers next summer if they feel they're probably going to have to match anyway?

While you ponder, here's the notebook from tonight that includes game details.

That's all I got for now. It's been a long few weeks since that new labor agreement was reached.

Kent will probably blog at you on Thursday while I work on season-advance stuff.

 

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