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.
Toronto makes its only Target Center visit this season tongiht and will be without reserve forward Patrick Patterson, who is a late scratch because of a sprained elbow.
Patterson re-aggravated an elbow he had hurt in the past week during Friday's home victory over Sacramento.
His absence will hurt the Raptors' depth -- which has been the foundation of their 27-13 turnaround since they traded star Rudy Gay to the Kings in December for Patterson and three other bench players -- as well as take away a key defender they intended to use on Kevin Love.
Without him, the Raptors will have to rely on veterans Chuck Hayes (one of those four players acquired in the trade), Steve Novak and Tyler Hansbrough.
The Detroit Pistons arrive at Target Center tonight 13 games under .500 and...just three games behind Atlanta for the Eastern Conference's final playoff spot.
The Wolves, meanwhile, are even at 30-30 and five games behind Dallas for the West's final spot and the clock is ticking loudly.
If the season ended today, both Charlotte and Atlanta would make the playoffs in the East with losing records.
And Memphis with a 34-26 record would miss out in the West.
"I just think that's the way it is," Wolves coach Rick Adelman said about the disparity between the strength of the two conferences. "There's nothing you can do about it."
That said, Adelman suggested the league should be "aggressive" in seeking ways to modify the playoffs to make them more equitable.
"You look at each year as it comes and see if there's any way to tweak it," he said. "This is just one of those years you have to deal with."
The Knicks came to Target Center Wednesday with a 21-40 record and yet were about as far away from the playoffs as the Wolves are.
Then the Wolves went out and got run over from the start.
Tonight, they face a physical Pistons team with a talented frontcourt. Another loss could just about end any realistic ambitions the Wolves have to catch up and claim a playoff spot.
The day after a very disappointing loss to the Knicks, the Wolves spent a lot of time looking a film. This is what they saw:
“We defended very poorly,” coach Rick Adelman said.
“Our pick and roll defense was pretty bad,” Corey Brewer said.
Then the Wolves spent a rather long practice trying to change that. With games dwindling and playoff prospects dimming, the Wolves cannot afford a replay of the effort they showed against the Knicks Wednesday.
Tomorrow the Wolves get Detroit, another Eastern Conference team that is struggling, having lost eight of their last 10 games. But fans know what that’s worth; the Knicks came into Wednesday’s game having lost seven straight.
“We’re better than our record,” Brewer said. “We’ve lost a lot of close games. We felt like we were starting to play well, but last night was a tough loss to take. Especially coming off a good road trip.”
A couple items from today’s practice:
--Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio, who both stayed long after practice to work on their shots, were the last two players off the court today.
--Center Nikola Pekovic continues to feel pain in his ankle. He can play through it, he says, but the team is going to have to continue to watch his minutes for the foreseeable future.
“It’s hard to explain,” he said. “When I’m running, jumping, I have pain,” he said. “But when I finish I don’t have pain.’’
That’s about it for now. Jerry will be with the team tomorrow.
Greetings from Target Center for the last time tonight.
I find it rather difficult to understand how the Wolves could come out so flat with so much at stake. Guess that first home game after a long road trip is a tough one.
This one hurt. Especially with Memphis and Dallas both losing tonight. Especially after the Wolves had rebounded from a poor start to get within two points heading into the fourth quarter.
Here are some final thoughts on the game:
--Once again some poor offensive execution from the Wolves bench contributed to the loss. The Knicks opened the fourth quarter on a 15-2 run and the rest is history.
--The one bright spot on the night was Shabazz Muhammad’s 10 points on 5-for-5 shooting. He also had three rebounds and a steal. But don’t get too excited. He also had four turnovers and his defense wasn’t stellar.
--The Wolves very much need Chase Budinger to start hitting open shots. He was 3-for-10 tonight, 1-for-5 on three-pointers.
--J.J. Barea had another tough night, going 1-for-9.
--Nobody on the Wolves roster could slow Carmelo Anthony tonight. Not Corey Brewer, not Luc Mbah a Moute. Nobody.
--When was the last time Kevin Love went an entire half without a field goal? He had only one point in the second half Wednesday.
That’s about it for tonight. I’ll get back to you after Thursday’s practice.
Greetings again from Target Center. We’re just a few moments away from tipoff of the Wolves-Knicks game, and here is a quick update:
Despite an off-the-charts month of February in which he averaged 34 points and 14.1 rebounds per game, Kevin Love was not named the Western Conference player of the month. The award, announced just now, went to Clippers forward Blake Griffin, who averaged 30.0 points and 10.7 rebounds in 11 games in February.
The biggest difference? Griffin and the Clippers went 7-4 February games while the Wolves – though hot late – won just five of 11 games in February.
--The Knicks will continue with a starting lineup that includes Amar’e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler, hoping to counter the Wolves one-two punch of Nikola Pekovic and Love.
--The Wolves, as usual, are going with a starting five of Love, Pekovic, Ricky Rubio, Kevin Martin and Corey Brewer
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