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.
Timberwolves rookie guard Alexey Shved is one of 18 young players chosen for All-Star weekend's Rising Stars challenge, but Ricky Rubio and Derrick Williams weren't invited to play on Friday night in Houston next month.
The NBA chose 18 rookies and sophomores -- nine each -- and will divide those players equally into two teams, as chosen by GMs Shaquille O'Neal and Charles Barkley.
The NBA ditched the rookie-sophomore opposition starting last season in Orlando.
Second-year players Kenneth Faried, Kyrie Irving, Brandon Knight, Kawhi Leonard, Chandler Parsons, Klay Thompson, Tristan Thompson, Nikola Vukevic and Kemba Walker were chosen ahead of Williams and Rubio.
Rubio, of course, got a late start this season, missing the season's first six weeks following March knee surgery.
The rookies chosen: Portland's Damian Lillard, Golden State's Harrison Barnes, Washington's Bradley Beal, New Orleans' Anthony Davis, Charlotte's Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Cleveland's Dion Waiters and Tyler Zeller.
Shved, btw, will make his return tonight against the Clippers at Target Center after two weeks away because of a sprained ankle.
As of yesterday, Rick Adelman was uncertain whether Shved or vet Luke Ridnour will start beside Rubio in the backcourt.
I'll bet Ridnour does.
Kevin Love refuses to call it a rivalry because he has a high threshold for such things, but there’s something going on between him and Portland’s LaMarcus Aldridge.
As they did a season ago, the two power forwards had another exchange that turned physical on Friday in the Wolves’ 103-95 loss to the Blazers.
This time, it featured Love shoving Aldridge underneath the basket – typical NBA stuff among big men, Love said afterward – and escalated into a pair of fouls and then a pair of technical fouls early in the third quarter that contributed to the foul trouble that sent Aldridge to the bench midway through the third with five of them.
“I personally didn’t deserve it,” Love said about the Ts. “I walked away. He was doing whatever it was that he was doing. I think he was just trying to hype his team up.”
The Wolves led 59-54 at the time and still were ahead 65-62 when Aldridge picked up that fifth foul and went to the bench midway through the third quarter.
Without him, the Blazers then outscored the Wolves 22-13 over the next nine minutes on a night when the visitors couldn’t defend Portland’s starting backcourt of rookie Damian Lillard and Wes Matthews.
Here’s the game story that details their nights, when they combined to shoot 68 percent, make nine threes and score 58 points.
Getting back to the theme….
So what’s the deal between Aldridge and Love?
Is there a deal?
Of course, both say no.
“I don’t think so,” Aldridge said, “but everybody else might think so.”
Love also pooh-poohed the notion.
“No, no, you could ask him and I think he’d say the same,” Love said. “There’s plenty of premier power forwards in the league and we both happen to be one of them. But I don’t think there’s any rivalry between us. You create rivalries in the playoffs and plain and simple, I haven’t been there yet.”
Maybe not a rivalry, but there does seem to be something there.
Part of it probably dates to when Love made his first All-Star Game in 2011 with gaudy stats on a lousy team, picked above a more physically gifted Aldridge who has helped his team win more than Love's team since each player entered the league.
Part of it might be that Love gets more out of what he has, which might get under Aldridge’s skin some because that’s something he’s never really been accused of.
So, too, might Love's always more physical play.
Either way, any way, each wants to prove he’s better than the other.
Love had a 24-point, 13-rebound double-double in his second game back from injury. Aldridge had 13 and 6, but his team won.
His team almost always wins: The Blazers are 10-2 against the Wolves when both players have played.
The Blazers now have beaten the Wolves 13 of the last 14 times at Rose Garden.
That one time?
The Wolves needed Love’s 42 points last March to end a five-year, 16-game losing streak in Portland.
A few other bits of this and that from tonight:
Derrick Williams – the 2011 draft’s No. 2 overall pick – didn’t play a second again for the second consecutive game.
Rick Adelman said before the game that he knew someone would be left out when Love returned from that broken hand. He also said he intended to get Williams into Friday’s game somewhere, somehow.
He never did, going with Love for nearly 36 minutes and Dante Cunningham for 19 minutes off the bench because, he said, Cunningham clearly has won that power-forward battle with Williams so far.
He even played Lou Amundson eight minutes, turning to Amundson to play center when he went with a small lineup.
Backup center Greg Stiemsma also sat all night tonight.
So does that mean Williams is deep, deep, deep in Adelman’s “doghouse” – the word folks on Twitter love to use – and does this mean Williams’ days are numbered?
No and no.
It means that Williams hasn’t played well enough to Adelman's liking to earn Adelman’s trust above Cunningham and Amundson, guys who have both been in the league longer, and it does mean that the Wolves seemingly have given up, at least for now, with that experiment playing Williams at small forward.
He could still show up there someday even with Andrei Kirilenko and now Josh Howard still around, but probably only if Adelman plays Love more at center, something he’d rather not do unless it’s absolutely needed to get the Wolves’ struggling offense thus far clicking.
Lillard – the early clubhouse leader for Rookie of the Year – became the first rookie since Steph Curry in March 2010 to record at least 28 points and eight assists without a turnover in a game.
Him against Luke Ridnour tonight simply was a mismatch in size and speed.
Lillard has scored 20 points or more 11 times this season. All other NBA rookies have scored 20 or more 11 times combined.
* The Wolves now have lost four straight after starting the season 5-2.
And this road trip just keep moving along: They play at up-and-coming Golden State on Saturday in this stretch where they play four road games in six nights.
Good night from Portland. I'll be back tomorrow from Oakland.
It comes as no surprise but Wolves guard Ricky Rubio, who finished second to Kyrie Irving for rookie of the year, was named to the NBA's all-rookie first team today. He joins Irving (Cleveland), Kenneth Faried (Denver), Klay Thompson (Golden State), Iman Shumpert (New York), Kawhi Leonard (San Antonio) and Brandon Knight (Detroit) on the first team. Yes, that is seven players. But Shumpert, Leonard and Knight tied in the voting totals.
Wolves forward Derrick Williams joined Chandler Parsons (Houston), Isaiah Thomas (Sacramento), MarShon Brooks (New Jersey) and Tristan Thompson (Cleveland) on the second team.
The league's 30 head coaches were asked to select five players for the first team and five for the second team, regardless of position. Coaches were not allowed to vote for players on their own team. Two points went to first-team votes, one point for second-team votes.
Rubio got 21 first-team votes, second only to Irving's 29, and seven second-team votes. Williams got two first-place votes and 12 second-team votes.
Rubio joins Pooh Richardson, Christian Laettner, Isaiah Rider, Stephon Marbury, Wally Szczerbiak and Randy Foye as Wolves rookies to earn first-team all-rookie honors. Williams joins Felton Spencer, Kevin Garnett, Craig Smith, Kevin Love, Jonny Flynn and Wes Johnson as Wolves all-rookie second teamers.
Below are the 2011-12 NBA All-Rookie First and Second Teams:
2011-12 NBA ALL-ROOKIE FIRST TEAM
Player Team First (2 pt) Second (1 Pt) Total
Kyrie Irving Cleveland 29 - 58
Ricky Rubio Minnesota 21 7 49
Kenneth Faried Denver 19 8 46
Klay Thompson Golden State 16 11 43
Iman Shumpert New York 15 10 40
Kawhi Leonard San Antonio 14 12 40
Brandon Knight Detroit 13 14 40
2011-12 NBA ALL-ROOKIE SECOND TEAM
Player Team First (2 pt) Second (1 Pt) Total
Chandler Parsons Houston 10 13 33
Isaiah Thomas Sacramento 5 17 27
MarShon Brooks New Jersey 3 12 18
Derrick Williams Minnesota 2 12 16
Tristan Thompson Cleveland 2 12 16
Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio finished a distant second to Cleveland's Kyrie Irving in the NBA's Rookie of the Year balloting, announced by the league today.
Irving received 117 of 120 total first-place votes for a season when he ranked first among rookies in scoring (18.5 ppg), field-goal percentage (.469), free-throw percentage (.872) and second in assists (5.4 to Rubio's 8.7) and three-point percentage (.399).
Rubio received 49 second-place and 23 third-place votes and finished with 170 points, far behind Irving's 592, despite not playing the season's final six weeks because of those torn knee ligaments.
Denver's Kenneth Faried finished third, San Antonio's Kawhi Leonard was fourth and New York's Iman Shumpert was fifth.
Faried, Leonard and Shumpert each received one of the other three first-place votes that Irving didn't get.
Sacramento's Isaiah Thomas, the last player taken in last summer's draft, finished seventh when you could have made a case that he was the second best rookie all season behind Irving.
Irving is the Cavaliers' first winner since some guy named LeBron won the award in 2004.
Today was the last of the league's major individual award winners announced in a season when James again won MVP, San Antonio's Gregg Popovich was named Coach of the Year, Oklahoma City's James Harden was Sixth Man, Orlando's Ryan Anderson was Most Improved and New York's Tyson Chandler was named Defensive Player of the Year.
Irving, the No. 1 pick in last summer's draft, gets the Eddie Gottlieb Trophy is named in honor of Eddie Gottlieb, one of the NBA’s founders who coached the Philadelphia Warriors to the NBA championship in 1946-47.
After the Wolves blew a 21-point lead in Sunday's loss to the lowly Golden State Warriors -- a team starting four rookies -- guard J.J. Barea turned out some of the most compelling quotes of the season.
He said there were a bunch of guys on the team who didn't care, how the team wouldn't start winning until that changed and how upset he was at how a number of his teammates didn't take Sunday's loss very hard.
"We've got problems here," he said. "We have a lot of guys that don't care. On a basketball team when you have a bunch of guys who don't care it's tough to win games. We're going to keep getting (losses) here until we get players here who care about winning, about the team, about the fans."
Pretty strong words. Now, Barea is a veteran used to winning. And he did play 48 minutes Sunday with rookie Malcolm Lee getting sick before the game.
But he was also the guy guarding Charles Jenkins, who led the Warriors comeback.
Barea's comments will get tons of discussion in the Twin Cities media Monday. And they should. If you read between the lines of what coach Rick Adelman has been saying for a while now, you get the feeling that he's been suggesting the same thing.
Sunday the Wolves played very well early, then stopped playing hard or playing together. Isn't that the same thing as not caring?
Here are some other impressions of Sunday's game:
--This isn't exactly breaking news, but I am now 100 percent convinced that a team with big-time aspirations can't have a guy like Anthony Randolph playing significant minutes. What a tease he is. He looked so good early in this game, scoring and getting blocks. But in the end he had four turnovers and he stopped playing defense.
--Ditto, perhaps, for Michael Beasley. He played 25 1/2 minutes, shot 3-for-11. He had nine rebounds but his defense wasn't stellar either.
--Boy does rookie Derrick Williams have a lot to work on this summer. His limp to the finish continued Sunday, when he played 11 1/2 minutes and made just one of five shots.
That's about it for now. Have a good night.
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