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.
The time is now to stop the Wolves' season-long four-game losing streak. For a few reasons.
First, of course, is that the Charlotte team the Wolves host tomorrow has lot 15 straight games, and hasn't scored 100 points in any of those games. And, yes, we all know about the trap of looking ahead, or looking past an opponent. But the Wolves should win the game. Make that the Wolves need to win the game, given the difficulty level of the schedule moving forward.
Wolves coach Rick Adelman made not of that today. After Charlotte, the Wolves play at Houston, against Philadelphia, at Denver and against Utah heading into the All Star break. Houston, Philadelphia and Denver are all currently in playoff position in their respective conferences, and Utah is a half-game out of eighth in the West.
"Charlotte is struggling so far," Adelman said. "After that, I don't see a whole lot of relief. You'd better be playing better. But, sometimes, you play good teams, you win a couple games and it turns everything the other way. We've done that already this season. No reason to think we can't do it again."
To that end, Adelman worked on offensive execution in practice today. It's easy to just harp on the turnovers that have plagued the team in recent games. But that's just the tip of the iceberg according to Adelman. J.J. Barea and Ricky Rubio have been struggling in the turnover department but Adelman said that is because they're trying to do too much. Why? Because the team has struggled to shoot the ball, which has made everybody anxious. As a result everyone tries to do too much and mistakes get made.
So Adelman stressed the easy play, the easy pass, in practice. And while the point guards clearly have to be better at taking care of the ball, Adelman also said the post players have to do a better job of sealing out, making themselves a big target and securing the ball before trying to make a move.
We'll see if the work the team did today bears fruit against the Bobcats tomorrow. In other items:
--Guard Malcolm Lee returned to the Wolves after a three-game, week-long stint with Sioux Falls of the D-League. He said his knee is 90 percent well. There is still occasional swelling, but what he mainly needs is strength and conditioning work. He said he's ready to play, but Adelman said that won't happen any time soon. Indeed, Adelman said another D-League stint could still be in the offing for Lee.
--Adelman sounded like there are no lineup changes coming, though he and his staff have talked about them. Luke Ridnour, who missed Monday's game for personal reasons, was back at practice and should return to the starting lineup.
--Martell Webster, who started Monday in Ridnour's absence. is still getting into basketball shape, said Adelman, who added that Webster clearly tired in the second half of Monday's game.
--Kevin Love, who will be participating in the three-point shooting contest at the All-Star Game, has begun preparing for it. After practice Tuesday he and some assistant coaches worked with Love on the contest, with Love moving from one station to another as the clock ticked down. Here's how he did: 16 points, then 19, 18, 12 and finally 21.
That's about it for now. Have a good night. I'll be covering tomorrow's game.
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