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.
A couple key folks weren’t at Timberwolves practice Friday.
Kevin Love was away with family after hearing about his grandmother’s death. Coach Rick Adelman, meanwhile, was with his son David, whose wife was about to give berth.
Adelman is expected back behind the bench Saturday when the Wolves host Miami. Love, though, mostly likely will not be here, according to Terry Porter, who ran practice in Adelman’s absence today.
“I wouldn’t think he’d be able to play tomorrow,” Porter said. “I don’t think he’s probably going to be back by then. I’m pretty sure it would be tough for him to be back.”
That will make Saturday’s game that much harder. The Heat are one of the two gold-standard teams in an otherwise weak Eastern Conference. And they’ve lost two straight games. Miami hasn’t lost three straight regular season games since Jan. of 2012.
With Love the Wolves would have been more capable of getting some inside points against the Heat. Without him, it will be hard to stop LeBron James and company. Dwyane Wade, who missed Thursday’s game with an illness – and who has missed a few games with knee soreness – didn’t play Thursday in a 20-point loss in Chicago but should play Saturday.
Porter didn’t say who would start in Love’s place, deferring that decision to Adelman Saturday. But the best bet is Dante Cunningham. But it could also mean extra minutes for Luc Mbah a Moute, whose defensive skills will be needed against James.
In other items:
--Chase Budinger continues to improve following knee surgery. Still not cleared for basketball activity, Budinger did mix in a few dunks with his post-practice shooting today.
That’s about all for now. I’ll get back to you after tomorrow’s morning shoot.
Kevin Love's status for Saturday's game against the Heat at Target Center is uncertain after the Timberwolves star left the team today because of the death of his grandmother.
The Wolves flew back to Minneapolis today after their Wednesday night game against the Spurs in Mexico City was scrapped because of a fire in the arena.
Love's maternal grandmother, Carol Lee Craig, passed away Wednesday. The Wolves released this statement this afternoon:
“The Timberwolves organization is deeply saddened to learn of the passing late last night of Carol Lee Craig, Kevin Love’s maternal grandmother. The Timberwolves send our condolences to the Love family in this difficult time. Kevin will not be at practice on Friday, and his status for Saturday’s game against Miami at Target Center is presently unknown.”
"Regrettably, Kevin will not be able to fulfill his scheduled community appearances on Friday at East Phillips Park Cultural and Community Center in Minneapolis, and the Sprint store location in Roseville. He was scheduled to be at each location to meet and greet fans and gather coats for the annual Kevin Love Coat Drive."
It's game day here in Mexico City, where the Wolves and San Antonio Spurs will tip off at the new Mexico City Arena (I wonder how much the town spent for those naming rights?) Arena at 8:30 p.m. Twin Cities time.
The late start isn't because of a designated time slot for an ESPN or TNT game.
No, rather it's cultural: Mexico City residents work until 6 pm usually and the rush-hour traffic in a metropolitan area of nearly 30 million people is horrible, so dinnertime isn't until 8:30 or 9 and so, too, is the timing for sportnig events.
Tonight's game is on FSN by the way, or NBA TV as well if you're elsewhere.
One thing you watch for: Mexico City is situated at 7,300 feet, a good bit higher than even Denver.
Rick Adelman had his players scrimmage to start Tuesday's practice here, just to see what effect the altitude at this height might have . And he noticed it quickly.
Kevin Martin said he noticed it when the team arrived on Monday. He was just lounging around his hotel room and felt out of breath and knew he wasn't that out of shape.
We'll see if that gives the younger Wolves an advantage.
In case you missed it in the paper or the web site, here's some catching up from the last two days here ni Mexico City:
* Spanish-speaking Ricky Rubio and JJ Barea drew a media crowd at Tuesday's practice. Here's my story for today's paper on the scene and the Wolves getting adjusted to that altitude. There's the Wolves Daily video for this morning -- from high above Mexico City's Paseo de la Reforma -- attached as well.
And if you're not on the mobile site, go to the links to the right of the story and click on the photo of Pek and AJ Price showing off the latest in Latin America fashion.
* If you're wondering why the Wolves have gone all the way to Mexico City to play a regular-season "home" game, here's the explanation from Tuesday's paper.
There's also Tuesday's Wolves Daily video attached to that, too.
Look for Thursday's Wolves Daily video and hopefully some post-game locker room video after tonight's game, if the iffy Internet down here obliges.
The Wolves get their second look at the Thunder in a month tonight in Oklahoma City, but this time the Thunder has All-Star guard Russell Westbrook.
Westbrook didn't play the last time these teams played, on Nov. 1 at Target Center because of a second knee surgery that kept him out of the season's first two games.
The Wolves held Kevin Durant to just 13 points that night -- well, Corey Brewer mostly did -- and the Wolves thumped the Thunder 100-81.
He's back now, in a big way after hitting that desperation three-pointer from the corner that beat Golden State by a point on Friday at home.
The Thunder, btw, tonight end a six-game homestand, one of two they have this season.
While they've been home for nearly two weeks, the Wolves will have played eight games in six different cities and six of those games were in three sets of back-to-backs.
"It's good to be home," said Thunder coach Scott Brooks, whose team is undefeated at home (8-0).
Rick Adelman didn't plan to play newcomer Luc Mbah a Moute 26 minutes -- and nearly all of the fourth quarter -- in Saturday's victory at Dallas, but did so because his team had the lead and the defense of both Mbah a Moute and Dante Cunningham helped them keep it.
It'll be interesting to see tonight how much he uses Brewer on Westbrook and Mbah a Moute on Durant.
Rick Adelman was upset after this loss. He was angry with his team’s lack of effort out of the gate. He was angry with the lack of defense as his team lost for a third straight time. He actually seemed a bit offended that, at home, a team could come out that flat.
And he said so. He talked about how the coaches can only talk so much, that the leaders on the team have to start policing things on their own.
So, I would imagine the Wolves will have a nice, lengthy practice on Friday, which will follow a long, less-than-fun review of the film of Wednesday’s 117-110 loss to the Nuggets at Target Center.
Here are some final thoughts on the game:
--Ricky Rubio continues to struggle. I don’t care that he actually hit some shots tonight (he was 6-for-12). A starting point guard on a quality NBA team can’t have seven turnovers.
--The Wolves continue to struggle with quick backcourts. Tonight Ty Lawson, Randy Foye (yes, Randy Foye) and Nate Robinson off the bench had their way with the Wolves.
--Eight different Nuggets players scored in double figures tonight. The Nuggets bench outscored Minnesota’s 47-10.
--The Wolves continued to struggle from long range, going 5-for-20 on three-pointers. Kevin Martin was 0-for-5, Love 3-for-9.
That’s about it for now. Have a great Thanksgiving and I’ll get back to you after the Wolves practice on Friday.
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