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.
In a mild surprise, Wolves coach Rick Adelman said he will start Luc Mbah a Moute in place of the absent Kevin Love in tonight’s game against the Heat at Target Center.
It is simply a matter of matchups, Adelman said. “They’ve got two tough guys in LeBron (James) and (Dwyane) Wade and we’re just trying to give us our best chance,” Adelman said. “With Kevin out, we’re going to have to defend to stay in the game. So we’ll start him. It gives us more flexibility. I can bring Dante Cunningham off the bench.’’
It should be noted that Adelman was talking about this before the Heat announced that Michael Beasley, the former Wolves player now coming off the bench in Miami, was out with a sore hamstring. We’ll have to see if that affects Adelman’s rotation.
But it’s clear he feels the team needs to defend to have a chance. Well, that and score points. Kevin Martin will be looked upon to score. And, given Miami’s recent troubles defending in the paint, it figures that Nikola Pekovic will be looked to early and often. “Pek and (Martin) are two guys who have to score,” Adelman said.
In other news:
--Wade said he’s frustrated having to deal with injuries that have kept him out of a handful of games. But he’s good to go tonight.
--Adelman missed practice Friday to be there for his son David (also a Wolves assistant) and his wife Jenny, who was about to give birth to their first child. All the news is good. Leonard Joseph (LJ) Adelman was born Friday at about 6 p.m. It is Adelman’s eighth grandchild, third grandson.
--Adelman said Love, who is away with family after the death of his grandmother, is expected back in Minnesota Sunday. Adelman said Love should be here to practice with the team Monday and accompany the team to Detroit for Tuesday’s game.
Not a huge amount of news to be had at today’s shootarounds, other than a confession from Miami Heat coach Eric Spoelstra that he bussed the short distance to the Target Center from the Heat hotel because of the cold. “I usually walk,” he said. “Not today. I feel a little guilty about that.’’
Everybody was present at the Miami shootaround, but Spoelstra didn’t say for sure whether guard Dwyane Wade would play. Wade has missed a few games with knee soreness and was held out of Miami’s loss in Chicago earlier this week with an illness. My guess is he’ll play.
Meanwhile, over at the Wolves….
Wolves coach Rick Adelman is a grandpa, again. And his son David – a Wolves assistant – and his wife Jenny are new parents to a baby boy.
Adelman doesn’t talk after morning shoots, so we don’t know for sure who will start in place of Kevin Love, who is back home after the death of his grandmother. But the guess here is Dante Cunningham.
I’ll get back to you with more specifics after the coaches talk pre-game. …. Stay warm.
It's game day here in Mexico City, where the Wolves and San Antonio Spurs will tip off at the new Mexico City Arena (I wonder how much the town spent for those naming rights?) Arena at 8:30 p.m. Twin Cities time.
The late start isn't because of a designated time slot for an ESPN or TNT game.
No, rather it's cultural: Mexico City residents work until 6 pm usually and the rush-hour traffic in a metropolitan area of nearly 30 million people is horrible, so dinnertime isn't until 8:30 or 9 and so, too, is the timing for sportnig events.
Tonight's game is on FSN by the way, or NBA TV as well if you're elsewhere.
One thing you watch for: Mexico City is situated at 7,300 feet, a good bit higher than even Denver.
Rick Adelman had his players scrimmage to start Tuesday's practice here, just to see what effect the altitude at this height might have . And he noticed it quickly.
Kevin Martin said he noticed it when the team arrived on Monday. He was just lounging around his hotel room and felt out of breath and knew he wasn't that out of shape.
We'll see if that gives the younger Wolves an advantage.
In case you missed it in the paper or the web site, here's some catching up from the last two days here ni Mexico City:
* Spanish-speaking Ricky Rubio and JJ Barea drew a media crowd at Tuesday's practice. Here's my story for today's paper on the scene and the Wolves getting adjusted to that altitude. There's the Wolves Daily video for this morning -- from high above Mexico City's Paseo de la Reforma -- attached as well.
And if you're not on the mobile site, go to the links to the right of the story and click on the photo of Pek and AJ Price showing off the latest in Latin America fashion.
* If you're wondering why the Wolves have gone all the way to Mexico City to play a regular-season "home" game, here's the explanation from Tuesday's paper.
There's also Tuesday's Wolves Daily video attached to that, too.
Look for Thursday's Wolves Daily video and hopefully some post-game locker room video after tonight's game, if the iffy Internet down here obliges.
The Wolves get their second look at the Thunder in a month tonight in Oklahoma City, but this time the Thunder has All-Star guard Russell Westbrook.
Westbrook didn't play the last time these teams played, on Nov. 1 at Target Center because of a second knee surgery that kept him out of the season's first two games.
The Wolves held Kevin Durant to just 13 points that night -- well, Corey Brewer mostly did -- and the Wolves thumped the Thunder 100-81.
He's back now, in a big way after hitting that desperation three-pointer from the corner that beat Golden State by a point on Friday at home.
The Thunder, btw, tonight end a six-game homestand, one of two they have this season.
While they've been home for nearly two weeks, the Wolves will have played eight games in six different cities and six of those games were in three sets of back-to-backs.
"It's good to be home," said Thunder coach Scott Brooks, whose team is undefeated at home (8-0).
Rick Adelman didn't plan to play newcomer Luc Mbah a Moute 26 minutes -- and nearly all of the fourth quarter -- in Saturday's victory at Dallas, but did so because his team had the lead and the defense of both Mbah a Moute and Dante Cunningham helped them keep it.
It'll be interesting to see tonight how much he uses Brewer on Westbrook and Mbah a Moute on Durant.
Greetings from Target Center.
Luc Mbah a Moute spent all morning getting checked by doctors and finishing up the paperwork. He barely finished that in time to introduce himself to his teammates at the end of morning shootaround. Tonight, he walked out of the Timberwolves locker room and didn’t know how to find his way to the court.
But there is a chance he could see some action.
Coach Rick Adelman said Mbah a Moute would dress and there is a chance he could play. But I wouldn’t think he’d play much. Adelman sounded happy at the prospect of getting another player who can defend on the ball against multiple positions. And while he doesn’t really know a lot about Mbah a Moute as a player yet, he’s already trying to figure out how another player whose calling card is defense can fit into his rotation.
Adelman was actually asked whether he saw his new guy as a starter or a reserve. Way too early for that. But know this: One of the things Adelman is most concerned about when it comes to his team is how to come up with a second unit he can depend on. In some way Mbah a Moute will figure into that solution, whether that means coming off the bench or allowing Mbah a Moute to start and bringing Corey Brewer off the bench.
In other matters:
--Adelman said it wasn’t true that Williams had played his way into the dog house. “I haven’t had a dog in years,” Adelman said. It was just a bad fit for Williams, who was and is a power forward (Adelman said) playing behind one of the best power forwards in the league.
--Adelman said center Ronny Turiaf’s elbow is still bothering him. It would appear his return is at least a couple weeks away.
--The Wolves are playing tonight in their new alternate jerseys. They have short sleeves. I’d be interested in your opinion after you’ve seen them on TV.
That’s about it. Have a good night.
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