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 are back home tonight, 24 hours after thumping the Pistons in Detroit 121-94.
Tonight, they've got Philadelphia in the second half of back-to-back games.
Before the game, Rick Adelman gave updates on injured Ronny Turiaf and Chase Budinger, both of whom remain out.
On Turiaf's fractured elbow, Adelman said, "He's not there at all yet. It's just healing a lot slower than they anticipated. It's just a slower process the doctors thought and he thought. He's getting better, but I think it will be a while yet."
He said he didn't know who'd return first, which is a surprising because I -- and others -- had assumed Turiaf will be back before Budinger, who coming off a second knee surgery.
"We're hoping Chase can practice the next couple weeks and then we'll see where he goes from there," Adelman said. "Right now, they're both unknown."
Kevin Love was back at practice today after missing Saturday's loss to Miami because of the death of his grandmother back in Portland.
He declined to talk to media members after today's practice at Target Center, but is headed with the team to Detroit this afternoon for Tuesday's game there against the Pistons.
"He's fine," Wolves coach Rick Adelman said. "He went through the whole practice and seems good."
Also today, the NBA announced overnight that it has fined Corey Brewer $5,000 for what it deemed a flop against Miami and LeBron James Saturday night.
Brewer hit arms with James as both went up for a rebound and Brewer bounced away, his arms flailing from the contact.
He had already been warned once this season, so got fined $5K for this transgression and will be fined $10K if he penalized for another.
Here's the video of it if you haven't seen it, so decide for yourself...
A couple key folks weren’t at Timberwolves practice Friday.
Kevin Love was away with family after hearing about his grandmother’s death. Coach Rick Adelman, meanwhile, was with his son David, whose wife was about to give berth.
Adelman is expected back behind the bench Saturday when the Wolves host Miami. Love, though, mostly likely will not be here, according to Terry Porter, who ran practice in Adelman’s absence today.
“I wouldn’t think he’d be able to play tomorrow,” Porter said. “I don’t think he’s probably going to be back by then. I’m pretty sure it would be tough for him to be back.”
That will make Saturday’s game that much harder. The Heat are one of the two gold-standard teams in an otherwise weak Eastern Conference. And they’ve lost two straight games. Miami hasn’t lost three straight regular season games since Jan. of 2012.
With Love the Wolves would have been more capable of getting some inside points against the Heat. Without him, it will be hard to stop LeBron James and company. Dwyane Wade, who missed Thursday’s game with an illness – and who has missed a few games with knee soreness – didn’t play Thursday in a 20-point loss in Chicago but should play Saturday.
Porter didn’t say who would start in Love’s place, deferring that decision to Adelman Saturday. But the best bet is Dante Cunningham. But it could also mean extra minutes for Luc Mbah a Moute, whose defensive skills will be needed against James.
In other items:
--Chase Budinger continues to improve following knee surgery. Still not cleared for basketball activity, Budinger did mix in a few dunks with his post-practice shooting today.
That’s about all for now. I’ll get back to you after tomorrow’s morning shoot.
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.
At some point today – if it hasn’t already happened – Kevin Love will welcome back an old friend. Luc Mbah a Moute was not available to the media this morning. I understand he was taking care of some final details, perhaps finishing up his official physical. He is expected to be available before tonight’s game with Denver after coming to the Wolves in the Derrick Williams trade.
But Love knows Mbah a Moute as well as anybody. Love was a freshman and Mbah a Moute a junior on the 2007-08 UCLA team that made it to the final four before, as Love said today, they ran into a guy named Derrick Rose.
Well, officially, they didn’t. UCLA’s Final Four loss to Rose and Memphis in the spring of 2008 was vacated by the NCAA because of rules violations by Memphis.
But I digress.
Mbah a Moute might have been busy, but Love took some time to talk about his once and future teammate. “I’m very happy to have Luc around,” Love said. “Obviously it’s sad to lose D-Will, he’s been here. But we wish him the best – I think everybody does – in Sacramento. But, having Luc around brings a guy who, defensively, is going to be great for us. He can guard multiple positions, can score the ball if need be. Just a great guy to have around, period. He’s really going to help the locker room out, bring an intensity and a defensive presence for us.’’
Love saw Mbah a Moute’s defensive ability at UCLA, and said that hasn’t changed. He also sees his former teammate as a player who, in spots, has shown his ability to take advantage of mismatches on the offensive end as well.
That said, Love admitted that making a personnel change during the season can be difficult. “It’s pretty tough,” he said. “I would say it would be a little bit more tough had D-Will been a starter or something, playing 25-, 30-plus minutes a night. But it’s always tough losing somebody. I really enjoyed having D-Will around. And, like I mentioned, Sacramento will enjoy him. But having Luc, he’ll come in and fit in immediately.’’
Love reiterated his believe that Williams will flourish in Sacramento. “He’ll definitely get a chance there,” Love said. “And I think he’ll have success. If he keeps working hard, keeps his nose to the grind, he has the talent. He just has to go out there and show it.”
--Meanwhile, Derrick Williams did an interview with the Kings’ web site last night. Here are some excerpts.
On the trade: “It’s a new beginning, a new start for myself and the team,” he said. “I feel I can help this team out, we have a young nucleus on this team and I feel I can help a lot.’’
On how he found out in the Wolves locker room: “Some of the guys were like, ‘I heard it’s happening,’ ‘’ Williams said. “They all said good luck and wished me the best and things like that.”
On his fit with the Kings: “I feel like I fit,” he said. “We’re going to run up and down the court, use our athleticism. Like I said, we have a good nucleus on this team, with young guys on this team , and the vets as well. The sky’s the limit.”
On his fit in Minnesota: “Yeah, (the trade) was good for both sides,” Williams said. “Not too many times it’s like that, when you part ways. They have a great team over there, sometimes it just doesn’t work out and I think we all felt that way and that’s the reason I’m here. (It is a) better fit for myself and the style of play that I have. … Everybody knows I’m athletic, run up and down the court, like to shoot. I like to shoot threes, I like to get everybody involved, I like to call myself a game-changer.’’
More on his fit in Minnesota: “I think it was just a bad fit for myself and the situation I was in. I’m here to prove people wrong. Since the day I picked up a basketball I’ve always been like that. I was never in the top 100 for ESPN out of high school and people talked I was going to redshirt my freshman year, and two years later I was the No. 2 pick. … It was tough (in Minnesota). People say I’m a 3 or 4, I just tell people to get me on the court and I’m going to do good things. Playing with Kevin Love is tough. Not too many people can out play him, he’s one of the best players in the world. He’s going to give you 25 or 26 and 15 a night. It wasn’t a great fit but I’m here now and I think it’s going to be a great fit in Sacramento.’’
That’s it for now. I’ll get back to you before tonight's game.
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