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 announced Saturday that guard Brady Heslip had been waived.
Heslip, 24, appeared in four preseason games, scoring five points with two steals. The former Baylor player had also played for the Wolves in the summer league.
The Wolves' roster now stands at 16, which means one more move has to be made by the Monday deadline o reach the limit of 15 players,
The Wolves conclude this long preseason -- three to five games too long, by Flip Saunders' estimation -- with tonight's finale against Chicago in St. Louis.
Andrew Wiggins and Shabazz Muhammad both would be healthy enough to play in this were Wednesday's season opener at Memphis, but Saunders is staying cautious and keeping both out tonight.
Corey Brewer will start for Wiggins in a lineup beside Ricky Rubio and Kevin Martin in the backcourt and Brewer, Nikola Pekovic and Thad Young up front.
This will be the third consecutive game out for Wiggins, who bruised his behind in a nasty fall Sunday in Tulsa against Oklahoma City. Saunders wants him to get two good practice days in before he plays again. Those practice days will be Sunday and Monday.
Muhammad's Achilles grew sore after Wednesday's game in Milwaukee and Saunders decided to rest him too after he played good minutes in back-to-back games Tuesday and Wednesday.
Anthony Bennett says he's feeling better now. He played just eight minutes Wednesday not because of that sore knee but from what he thought was a reaction to something he ate, perhaps a breakfast of eggs.
The Wolves have until 5 p.m. Monday to get their 17-man roster down to 15 men.
Yes, Flip Saunders is taking it easy on the old guys here as the Wolves' preseason schedule ticks away.
Flip said before tonight's game that Corey Brewer, Kevin Martin, Ronny Turiaf and Mo Williams all are getting the night off here in Milwaukee on the second half of back-to-back games after last night's home victory over Indiana.
Rookie Andrew Wiggins also will not play because of that bruised butt he injured in a fall Sunday in Tulsa and that kept him out of last night's game, too.
Tonight's likely starters are Ricky Rubio, Shabazz Muhammad, Chase Budinger, Thad Young and Nikola Pekovic.
Flip hasn't spend much time this preseason trying to build chemsitry by playing his likely starters and probable rotations together a lot, but he didn't sound too concerned when I asked him about before last night's game.
He was more concerned with getting to next Wednesday's season opener at Memphis without a serious injury and said they've had enough time playing guys together in practices to form that chemistry.
Greetings from Target Center for a final time tonight. The Wolves just pasted the injury-riddle Pacers 107-89. Here are some post-game notes for you:
--Coach Flip Saunders said rookie Andrew Wiggins experienced some soreness and swelling in his backside as a result of a fall he took in Sunday’s game. He did not play tonight and likely won’t tomorrow in Milwaukee. The Wolves do not think the injury is serious.
--Don’t look now, but Anthony Bennett is playing with a lot of confidence. Could he, might he, become the steal of the big trade this summer? Bennett scored 17 points in 17 minutes with five rebounds and a steal.
--Ricky Rubio was 1-for-5 shooting at halftime. But, continuing to be aggressive – he got to the free throw line eight times in 22 minutes – and he finished with 16 points on 4-for-8 shooting.
--It’s been so long I’d forgotten what a healthy Chase Budinger looked like. Tonight he was moving off the dribble, getting to places on the court where he likes to shoot. And he had legs beneath his three-point shot (2-for-2).
--I think Mo Williams is a big upgrade at backup guard. He played really well tonight. He scored 13 points on 5-for-9 shooting with a game-high nine assists. But he did have six turnovers.
--You should have seen the Wolves bench explode in celebration when Brady Heslip scored a late basket.
That’s about it for now. Have a good night. Jerry will be with the team tomorrow.
Perhaps the most interesting thing to come out of Wolves coach Flip Saunders’s pre-game meeting with the media was his contention that he doesn’t need to work too hard on rotations in the final three preseason games.
Saunders’ stated plan when the seven-game preseason began was to use the first few games for individual evaluation, then spend the final games ironing out his rotations. But, as the preseason has gone on, Saunders has decided that keeping players healthy is the most important thing. That’s why you might not see all the veterans play tonight vs. Indiana at Target Center or Wednesday in Milwaukee.
“My need is to get out [of the preseason] unscathed if we can,” Saunders said. “We’ll have lineups in there, but we’re not going to see an extended lineup. I don’t think we need to do that.”
Well, Saunders said much of the chemistry that is necessary on the court is being built in practices.
But there is another thing. “We’re trying to get our guys to play more conceptually than worry about who they’re playing with.’’
Here are some other pre-game nuggets:
--After missing the last three preseason games with a sore heel, Shabazz Muhammad will play tonight. I talked to him after morning shoot, and he is very, very eager to get out there and play. Muhammad stayed in shape while he was rehabbing the heel, dropping a few more pounds to get to 215. Now he has to go out and make up for lost time while he tries to earn himself minutes when the regular season starts. It won’t be easy.
“You can’t make the team in a hot tub,” Saunders said. “It’s tough to get playing time from there. You have to go out and play. He’s been diligent. He’s worked hard, studied film. We’ll see in the next few days if he’s able to translate that and do it on the court.’’
--Zach LaVine returns to regular minutes after sitting almost all of Sunday’s game against Oklahoma City on the bench. This was by design. After a difficult game against Milwaukee two days prior, Saunders had LaVine sit on the bench next to assistant coaches Sidney Lowe and Ryan Saunders. They talked through what they were seeing, hoping to give LaVine a new perspective on the game.
“We wanted him to get a feel for how we look at the game as it is going on,” Flip Sanders said. “What we’re trying to do, how we’re trying to play. … I thought, by the end of the fourth quarter, he was understanding more of what we’re trying to accomplish.’’
That’s about all for now. I’ll get back to you after the game.
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