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 Wolves played on without Kevin Love and Andrei Kirilenko -- and Ricky Rubio, of course -- on Saturday in their Target Center preseason debut and overcame Chicago 82-75 with a decisive 24-15 fourth quarter.
After the game, they waived center/forward Phil Jones and guard Seth Tarver to get their roster to 18 players.
Neither player appeared in any of the three preseason games.
The Wolves must get to at least the maximum 15-player roster before their Nov. 2 season opener.
Love said missed tonight's game because he slept with his right arm extended over his bed on Friday night. When he awoke Saturday, he said he couldn't shoot the ball 10 feet because he had slept on it so awkwardly.
He also said he thinks it's only a "24-hour thing."
Without those two, Dante Cunningham and Chase Budinger started.
But the guys who won the game in the fourth quarter with a group that included J.J. Barea at point, Alexey Shved at shooting guard, Nikola Pekovic at center, Budinger at small forward and Lou Amundson at power forward.
Shved made two big threes that repelled the Bulls twice, extending the lead back to five points after Chicago had pulled within a bucket.
He scored 12 of his 15 points in the fourth.
"It's good to have two guys who can handle the ball," Rick Adelman said. "He got a good experience there. It's a different arena for him."
Pekovic played nearly 39 minutes after he played just the first quarter on Friday in Indianapolis.
And he had corresponding numbers for such big minutes: 16 points, 17 rebounds.
Those 17 rebounds are the most by a Timberwolf in a preseason game since Al Jefferson had that many in 2007.
Some other things:
* Brandon Roy again looked good, scoring 13 points on 3-for-7 shooting and handing out a team-high four assists even though he didn't play at all in the fourth quarter.
Adelman said he considered putting Roy back in to close out the game, but didn't because the group already on the floor was going well.
He added that he will do that here before the preseason schedule -- which has four games left -- is over.
* Amundson and Cunningham continue to live up to Adelman's description of them as "energy guys."
Cunningham blocked Kirk Hinrich's shot from behind early in Saturday's game after he recorded six blocks Friday against the Pacers and Amundson provided the punctuation on this victory in the final three minutes when he rejected a Taj Gibson block attempt at one end and then providing an emphatic putback for a nine-point lead at the other end.
* Bulls forward Jimmy Butler played all 48 minutes, in a PRESEASON game.
* The Wolves will take Sunday off after playing back-to-back games Friday and Saturday and come back Monday for practice before playing an Israeli team on Tuesday night at Target Center.
I'll be back to blog at you on Monday.
Rick Adelman played Friday night's rematch with the Pacers with the future, specifically Saturday night's home game against Chicago, in mind.
He gave Andrei Kirilenko the entire night off at small forward, and started Derrick Williams there instead and delivered a 25-point performance.
Then barely played any of the other four starters beyond the first quarter before he turned the game into an evaluation night by playing everybody from Dante Cunningham's 32 minutes to Will Conroy's 30.
Even camp invitees Chris Johnson and Jermaine Taylor played the final six minutes and led back from 12 behind midway through the fourth quarter to within three points in the final three minutes.
Brandon Roy played the first 8:15 and then sat down for the night to rest those knees for Saturday's game.
Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic played the entire first quarter and then were done.
J.J. Barea played the most of those other four starters, going nearly 16 minutes before he called it out.
The Wolves led 13-4 early and were ahead by as many as 12 points late in the second quarter, but they were overcome by a 24-5 Pacers' second-half run when they had some of their starters in there while the Wolves relied on their bench.
A couple thoughts from the game:
* Williams struggled early in a tough matchup against Paul George at small forward, but stuck with it and scored 15 of those 25 points in the second half. Afterward, Adelman praised him for his second, third and fourth efforts.
* Alexey Shved scored his first NBA hoop -- a three-pointer from the right wing, no less -- and scored 7 points in nearly 20 minutes. He had two steals and two turnovers but not an assist and briefly played point guard when Adelman gave Conroy a brief rest.
* Chase Budinger is going to be an instant-offense guy off the bench. He scored 11 points in 12 first-half minutes and finished with 14 points in nearly 26 minutes.
That's all from Indianapolis tonight. There should be some postgame video with Adelman, DWill and Love imbedded in here by morning.
I'll be back at it Saturday night from Target Center against the Bulls.
The Wolves finished their first training-camp practice in Mankato, grabbed a bunch of Chipotle burritos and bowls ordered for them and then bused back to Minneapolis this afternoon.
Rick Adelman declared the four days a success, even if his team's passing offense is ahead of the defense.
"I think you'll see a lot of deficiencies when we play somebody else, but that's fine," he said. "That's what exhibition season is for."
And that preseason begins Wednesday against Indiana in Fargo, N.D.
A couple quick things here before I, too, head home from Mankato:
* Brandon Roy declared himself happy and healthy, having survived four long practices in four days quite well, thank you.
"The body's tired, but the knees feel good," he said.
* The Wolves came through these four days fairly healthy. A few players sat out parts of some practices because of minor things. Malcolm Lee, for example, sat out the end of today's practice just like he did Thursday's because of groin tightness.
* Adelman mentioned Alexey Shved's shooting and the way Derrick Williams ran the floor when he was asked who stood out in camp.
* Adelman also said it's too early to really tell about the players with non-guaranteed contract in camp, but then he mentioned that former LSU center Chris Johnson, a 6-11 shot blocker, as a guy with a unique set of skills.
* This is kinda interesting: When I asked Adelman what kind of shape his three Olympians are in after a long summer, he basically said Kirilenko and Shved are fine but said Love is going to have to play himself back in the shape he was in last season.
That's all from Mankato for this year.
The Wolves will practice Saturday at Target Center.
I'll blog at you then.
The Wolves will hold their last of four training-camp practices in Mankato this morning and then head home to Minneapolis to prepare for Wednesday's preseason opener against Indiana in Fargo.
The Wolves practiced a little more than three hours on Thursday -- they opened camp with a four-hour session on Tuesday -- and afterward coach Rick Adelman said the team was ahead of schedule installing its offensive and defensive schemes.
"I really wasn't sure how much we were going to do," he said. "Watching these guys scrimmage, we're running a lot of stuff out of corner set because they seem to pick up very quickly. They've got a real good feel for it. We're a pretty good offensive team I think, the way guys read things and pick things up. It's hard to get an idea how you're doing defensively. The way we're playing, the ball is moving and you can't really zero in how you're doing defensively.
"That's always the problem I had in Sacramento because we were so good offensively. Once we got in games, we needed to figure it out (defensively)."
A couple of things from Thursday's practice:
* Malcolm Lee watched the end of it on the stationary bike because of tightness in his groin, but otherwise the Wolves seemed to come through their third camp practice still pretty darn healthy.
Greg Stiemsma has been able to participate in all 5-on-5 scrimmages, somewhat "surprisingly" he said and declared his feet are feeling "really good."
Brandon Roy seemed to scrimmage normally on Thursday as well. On Wednesday, he sat down for the day after participating in the scrimmage's opening minutes.
* Adelman praised Russian rookie Alexey Shved's shooting, saying "Alexey was really good today. He shot the heck out of the ball. He gives us another guy who can shoot it with range. There's just pieces we're finding out about and we have to find out how we're going to use these guys."
* Adelman also said that Kevin Love at power forward and Nikola Pekovic are the two starting lineup givens, but that he likely will experiment with combinations throughout the preseason schedule. Given that they are paying Andrei Kirilenko $10 million a season, it's a pretty good bet he gets written in with ink rather than pencil at the small-forward spot eventually.
The Wolves likely will work out Saturday at Target Center and take Sunday off after going hard for five consecutive days.
Rick Adelman gave the Wolves a break on Wednesday after working them for nearly four hours in Tuesday's opening training-camp practice:
They only practiced for three hours.
Brandon Roy reported that he felt as good on Wednesday as he did Tuesday, even though he only participated in the first part of the practice-ending scrimmage because Adelman doesn't want to push him to the limit with long practices coming up in Mankato Thursday and Friday.
"I feel good," Roy said. "I won't say, `surprisingly' because I've been working pretty hard this summer. I was confident today would go good. My energy level, I felt almost better than yesterday. That's a good sign.
"I did everything. I start the scrimmages but Coach says, `When you come out, you're done.' So after the first five, six minutes, I subbed out because mainly right now we are going three hours on back-to-back days. He just wants to be smart. During the season, I'll go the full hour, hour and a half. He wants to do hold back so I don't wear down so much right now."
Chase Budinger was back participating fully in Wednesday's scrimmage after he sat most of Tuesday's scrimmage because of a hamstring injury that flared up last week.
Dante Cunningham was the one who sat this time after he tweaked an ankle.
Adelman reported that Derrick Williams followed Tuesday's impressive practice with another good day on Wednesday.
"He's pretty spry today," Adelman said.
The topic of conversation at practice Wednesday was the NBA's decision to level hefty fines to players they deemed via a video review from the league offices "flop" in regular-season games and the NBA Players Association decision to fight that decision.
It was a topic of conversation mainly because us media types kept asking about it, but Roy said it'll be the talk of the locker room as well.
For those asking, btw, all training-camp practices in Mankato are closed to the public and there will be no preseason game or public scrimmage held there. The Wolves will have some kind of open-house event when they return to Minneapolis.
I'll blog at you Thursday from here in Mankato.
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