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.

Wolves win for first time in 294 days, 99-82 over Mavericks

Posted by: Jerry Zgoda under Wolves injury report, Wolves postgame, Wolves news Updated: January 2, 2012 - 3:36 AM

Extra stuff from Sunday's 99-82 victory over defending champion Dallas beyond the game story for Monday's paper:

* By scoring the game's final 15 points, the Wolves won for the first time in 294 days and after a club-record 18 consecutive defeats.

They hadn't beaten anybody since defeating Utah at home on March 11.

As I quoted him in the gamer, Rick Adelman said, "I still don't take credit for those 15 last year. I have enough trouble with the three (losses) we have this year."

* Ricky Rubio has played just four NBA games but he already has made NBA.com's nightly Top 10 plays.

He made it on opening night against Oklahoma City and did so again Sunday, this time for penetrating along the baseline and then threading a pass through Dirk Nowitzki's legs that found Anthony Tolliver all alone in the right corner for the last of four threes the Wolves made (two each by Tolliver and Kevin Love) in that 15-0 run.

"I told him I know I'm getting used to playing with you when I actually expected him to bounce-pass it to me in the corner," said Tolliver, who was on the floor down the stretch to defend Dirk like he did LeBron on Friday night.  "That's why I was so ready for the shot. He made it perfectly, hit me right in the hands.

"It's indefensible. Dirk cut off the baseline. He did what he was supposed to do, but Rubio was able to make an incredible pass. I expected it to go through his legs into my hands and that's what happened. That why I was confident shooting it. I knew it was coming."

I asked Rubio after the game if he try to put into words how he just when and where to put a pass like that.

"It's hard," he said. "You only have less than a second and you have to know which is the way that pass can be the best one. Sometimes it is between his legs. Sometimes it is over his head and sometimes you have the shot. It depends.

"A point guard has to be the guy who play for all the other ones and have the other ones find the right shot. When he's alone in the corner, you have to know where he's at. We start to knowing each other."

* Check out Rubio's fourth-quarter stats in his four games so far: He has made 7 of 10 shots (including 2 of 2 three-pointers), 21 points, 14 assists, 9 rebounds and is a plus-27 in the plus-minus rating.

He went 4-for-8, including 2 for 2 on threes, on Sunday night.

Rubio again did almost all of the fourth-quarter work simply running pick and rolls with the ball in his hands time and time again.

"He's good," Mavs All-Star guard Jason Kidd said. "I mean, they ran one play the whole time and he executed it."

* So what was all this stuff about Rubio not being able to shoot a lick?

"I don't know, just like a lot of people didn't think he was real," Love said.

Said Tolliver: "I don't know who analyzed that. He is playing with a lot of confidence right now and that's what we need out of him."

And said Rubio: "My last two years was bad with my shot. But I worked a lot this summer on my shooting. When you work hard, things coming. I'm not worried about that. I been worried the last two years, but it was hard to improve when I was playing without stopping. This summer, I can stop a little bit with the lockout and it help me to improve."

* You think Love worked on that step-back 3-pointer this offseason?

He went 5 for 6 on threes Sunday and it seemed like everyone was that step-back shot he just drilled all night.

"Actually, yes," Love said. "It was something I definitely worked on. I want to get in a rhythm from the 3-point line. I only made a coule to start the season. I just wanted to keep working on it. Eventually it will pay off and tonight it did."

Love produced just another one of his ho-hummish double doubles -- he has started the season with four straight -- with a 25-point, 17-rebound night.

With each passing game, he's looking like he might make this contract-extension negotiation really very simple: Can the Wolves really afford not to make him a maximum five-year contract offer and be done with it by the Jan. 25 deadline?

* J.J. Barea did play against his former Dallas mates, but he was limited to fewer than 17 minutes and didn't play nearly all of the fourth quarter after it became clear he tried to play on all that strained hamstring as much as he could and wasn't moving well.

"It's not there," he said. "I've got to be explosisve. I got to be quick to be at my best. I was kind of frustrated with that. So we'll see."

He said he'll try the hamstring out before Monday night's game against San Antonio, but acknowledge that at some point, perhaps starting Monday, he might need to give it more time without trying to play for it to heal completely.

While he sat, Rick Adelman paired Rubio with Luke Ridnour down the stretch and they were effective together, particularly during that closing 15-0 run when the Wolves, with that small backcourt, held the Mavs without a single point for the final 5 1/2 minutes.

Tell me, when was the last time you saw that from the Wolves' defense?

* Michael Beasley left the game with a minute remaining because of a lacerated index finger on his shooting (left) hand.

It got jammed by a Love pass that Beasley reached back for and the force opened a gash that took five stitches to close.

"It hurt," he said.

 Well, yeah...

He said he initially thought the gash was so deep it exposed the bone.

"I thought it was the bone, but according to them," he said about the team's athletic-training staff, "I guess it was just flesh and fat."

When I asked him if he thought the finger will keep him out against San Antonio on Monday, he said, "Nah, it won't. It's not too bad. It's probably going to keep me from shooting, but it's probably best if I don't shoot right now."

He was 3 for 10 on Sunday, but at least he didn't sit for all the fourth quarter as he did Friday.

"Couple bad games," he said.

* Rubio faced Kidd for the first time in an NBA game. (The only other time was that gold-medal game in Beijing in 2008).

"He's great, he's unbelievable player," Rubio said. "He's going great career here in NBA and I learn a lot of things from him watching him today. I learned more things than ever playing against him. He's smart. He knows how to play and I am so happy to play against him."

* Wes Johnson had another forgettable night: 1 for 7 shooting, 13 minutes, two points.

And didya see that Sacramento sent DeMarcus Cousins, whom the Wolves passed by so they could take Johnson fourth overall in the 2010 NBA draft, home before tonight's game and went out of their way to say Cousins now has asked twice to be traded.

So I ask you: Would you pursue a gifted, tough, mean center who carries all the temperamental baggage with him?

Would you trade Johnson in a deal for him?

That's all I got from Target Center tonight.

Kent Youngblood is covering Monday's game against San Antonio.

He'll be blogging in with you then.

 

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