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.
Well, the Wolves took a while to take care of this game tonight. A loss to the Bucks would have been disastrous. As it is, all the Wolves did by winning was keep pace with Memphis in the Western Conference.
Here are a few reactions to the game:
--On a night when he said his body wasn’t feeling very good, Kevin Love gutted out a 27-point, 10-rebound performance. He also had six assists. And this from a guy who had just nine points and four rebounds at halftime.
--Kevin Martin also shook off a slow start – he was 5-for-13 in the first half – to score 26 points. Twelve of those came in the third quarter, when the Wolves took back control of the game.
--After a stretch of games in which J.J. Barea really struggled, I think he was the most important person in a Wolves uniform tonight. Where would Minnesota have been at halftime if he hadn’t scored 17 points in the first two quarters? Not within six, I can tell you that.
--Ricky Rubio continued his recent efficient play, scoring 11 points on 3-for-4 shooting to go with 10 assists. It was his 10th double-double of the season.
--Minnesota native Nate Wolters had a big group in the stands tonight. And he responded by scoring 14 points on 5-for-6 shooting with three assists for the Bucks.
That’s about all for now. Jerry will be in charge tomorrow.
Greetings from Target Center for the last time tonight.
I find it rather difficult to understand how the Wolves could come out so flat with so much at stake. Guess that first home game after a long road trip is a tough one.
This one hurt. Especially with Memphis and Dallas both losing tonight. Especially after the Wolves had rebounded from a poor start to get within two points heading into the fourth quarter.
Here are some final thoughts on the game:
--Once again some poor offensive execution from the Wolves bench contributed to the loss. The Knicks opened the fourth quarter on a 15-2 run and the rest is history.
--The one bright spot on the night was Shabazz Muhammad’s 10 points on 5-for-5 shooting. He also had three rebounds and a steal. But don’t get too excited. He also had four turnovers and his defense wasn’t stellar.
--The Wolves very much need Chase Budinger to start hitting open shots. He was 3-for-10 tonight, 1-for-5 on three-pointers.
--J.J. Barea had another tough night, going 1-for-9.
--Nobody on the Wolves roster could slow Carmelo Anthony tonight. Not Corey Brewer, not Luc Mbah a Moute. Nobody.
--When was the last time Kevin Love went an entire half without a field goal? He had only one point in the second half Wednesday.
That’s about it for tonight. I’ll get back to you after Thursday’s practice.
Well, this turned into a rather complex night.
Ronny Turiaf hurts his knee during the game, then we all have to deal with a bit of controversy after it ended. As you probably already know, long-time NBA writer Peter Vecsey tweeted not long after the Wolves had beaten Indiana at Target Center that Kevin Love had informed the Wolves that he will opt out of his contract after next season and sign elsewhere. Very quickly, Flip Saunders refuted that report in a tweet of his own.
It will be fascinating to see how this plays out tomorrow. Love figures to be surrounded by reporters after Thursday’s practice.
Until then, here are some impressions from tonight’s impressive win:
--It is even more impressive given that the Pacers are both very good and very healthy. The Wolves, meanwhile, were without Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Martin yet again
--The team’s injury situation got worse when Ronny Turiaf injured his right knee with just over 7 minutes left in the game and limped off the court. He was moving gingerly after the game and left the locker room with a bulky brace. Nobody had an update post-game, but we should know more tomorrow.
--it was a nice night for the Wolves bench tonight. Entrusted with leads, the bench held them every time, the final time early in the fourth after Indiana had closed to within five. J.J. Barea scored 12 points and had three assists. In his last two games he has shot 14-for-18.
--Corey Brewer continues to be the premier player at leaking out and finishing the break. Against the physical Pacers, the Wolves 18-8 edge on the fast break was key.
--Chase Budinger continues to struggle with his shot. He was 2-for-8 tonight.
-Rubio was amazing with his passing tonight. He was so spectacular that you almost forget he went 2-for-10 from the field. A 17-2 assist-to-turnover ratio? Unbelievable.
That’s about all for tonight. Jerry will be with the team tomorrow.
Greetings for a final time from Target Center, where the Wolves ended a four-game losing streak with a one-sided victory over a injury-ravaged Denver team.
Here are some thoughts on the game:
--Rubio continued to play aggressively. He looked for, and hit, his first four shots. And, almost immediately, teams started playing him differently, which opened up lanes for his passes. 11 and 11 for Rubio, his ninth double-double.
--Love had 32 points, 11 rebounds, eight assists. It was his 44th double-double this season, his 33rd 20-10 game and his 13th 30-10 game.
--Minnesota’s 52.3 shooting percentage was the sixth time they’ve shot better than 50 percent. They are 6-0 in those games.
--The Wolves’ 12 three-pointers equaled their second-highest total of the season.
--Breaking out of a shooting slump in a big way, J.J. Barea was 8-for-8 for 18 points with three assists.
--I continue to be impressed with Ronny Turiaf’s energy. He had only three points, but he had 11 rebounds – his career-high third straight game with 10 or more – and had four blocks and three assists.
That’s about all for now. Jerry will be in New Orleans for All-Star weekend. I’ll talk to you next week.
Greeting for a final time from Target Center
With a very different rotation due to injuries to Kevin Love (quad), Kevin Martin (thumb) and Nikola Pekovic (ankle), the Wolves managed to put together a very recognizable loss to the Blazers.
Sound familiar? Wolves let a third-quarter lead go, then can’t make stops in the fourth?
Here are some final thoughts on the game:
--It’s amazing how much better Ricky Rubio’s shot looks when he’s thinking shot first. He had to pick up the scoring load with all the injuries and he responded with a career-high 25 points with nine assists. It is imperative he keep that mindset, at least to a certain degree, when the Wolves get healthy.
--Shabazz Muhammad scored a career-high 12 points in nearly 17 minutes of playing time tonight. He has earned more playing time going forward.
--I thought Ronny Turiaf had another strong game. He didn’t score much (eight points). But he had 13 rebounds, three assists and three blocks. What a nice off-season signing that was. And a bargain, too.
--Chase Budinger is looking more and more like himself. Of course, we’ll have to see how he feels after playing nearly 30 minutes tonight. But he hit half of his shots.
--J.J. Barea continues to be a bit confounding. He was on the edge of out of control a number of times, made just one of seven shots. The Wolves bench, not surprisingly, scored just 18 points.
That’s about all for now. Have a great rest of your weekend.
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