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.
Anthony Bennett and Robbie Hummel have been cleared and are available to play today at New Orleans.
Their returns mean the Wolves had to let the 10-day emergency hardship contract of guard Sean Kilpatrick expire without renewing it for another 10 days.
Ricky Rubio, Kevin Martin, Kevin Garnett and Gary Neal won't play tonight, but Flip Saunders there's a chance Rubio could play tomorrow against Utah at Target Center.
Garnett is still ill -- has been for the last several games -- and isn't expected at the arena this afternoon.
Hummel hasn't played fracturing his right shooting hand in Jan. 25 game at Atlanta. That night he said he hoped to be back to four to six weeks. It took considerably longer and today he said he probably underestimated how long it'd take to get the right feeling back in a hand immobilized for so long.
Bennett hasn't played since the first game back after All-Star break because of a sprained ankle/calf injury sustained Feb. 20 against Phoenix.
Both Hummel and Bennett said they're not sure how their conditioning is but they'll each find out quickly probably. Each also said they also just hope to see these final 10 games to find their playing rhythm again.
Wolves coach Flip Saunders took a detour on his way to Houston for tonight's game against the Rockets: He stopped in Cleveland Thursday instead to visit his ailing father and scout the NCAA regional that included Kentucky and top draft picks Karl-Anthony Towns and WIllie Cauley-Stein.
He was not at the team's morning shootaround at Toyota Center but is expected in town this afternoon in time for tonight's game.
Nikola Pekovic and Gary Neal did not make the trip to Houston. Ricky Rubio and Kevin Garnett are here but are not expected to play.
Neither is Kevin Martin, who said his strained hamstrings should be better and good to go by next week.
Anthony Bennett, Shabazz Muhammad and Robbie Hummel remain out as well.
The Rockets are banged up as well: Donatas Motiejunas (lower back) is questionable, Patrick Beverley (wrist sprain), Terrence Jones (collapsed lung) and Kostas Papanikolaou (ankle sprain) are listed as out, but center Dwight Howard is back for his second game after he missed 22 games because of swelling in his knee.
Down to just 7 1/2 healthy men last night, the Wolves today signed D League guard Sean Kilpatrick to a 10-day contract before tonight's game at New York.
The Wolves received a hardship roster exception from the NBA to do so because they have so few healthy players.
Kilpatrick, 25, averaged 13.6 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.9 assists in 42 games with Delaware and Santa Cruz this season. He's 6-4 and played four seasons at Cincinnati, wasn't drafted last summer but played with Philadelphia's summer-league team and briefly was with Golden State in the preseason.
Ricky Rubio played last night's game at Toronto seemingly on one healthy leg. This gives the Wolves another backcourt option once Kilpatrick joins the team.
Flip Saunders said after Friday's morning shootaround in Oklahoma City that Kevin Garnett "for sure" will play tonight in Oklahoma City, but starting center Nikola Pekovic will be a game-time decision because of that ankle that limited him to eight minutes Wednesday in Phoenix.
That's the way it'll probably be here, a day to day situation depending on how much pain Pekovic is feeling in that ankle.
Without him for most of Wednesday's game, the Wolves relied upon newly acquired center Justin Hamilton to play 28 minutes off the bench.
Garnett hasn't played since Saturday's home victory over Portland.
Kevin Garnett will not play tonight against the Clippers in Los Angeles.
Flip Saunders said it's partly because of a sore knee with which Garnett has been dealing and partly for rest.
Garnett played 21 minutes in Saturday's home victory over Portland. Monday's absence now will give him Sunday and Monday off and presumably a practice day Tuesday before Wednesday's game at Phoenix.
Adreian Payne will start at the power-forward spot and newly acquired Justin Hamilton likely will see his first action as a Wolf.
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