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.
Greetings on a sunny Saturday.
There was a bit of news to come out of the Wolves’ practice today: Ricky Rubio will not play again this season. Coach Flip Saunders said Rubio’s sore left ankle – originally injured in Orlando Nov. 7 – was not responding well enough to treatment and that there was still soreness there.
“He’s just got soreness in that ankle,” Saunders said. “So they want to rest [it], take care of it. There is no use of him playing. We thought, with what we were doing, that he would get relief. And he’s not getting relief. So we want to make sure there is nothing else happening in there.”
Rubio appeared in a total of 22 games this season, averaging 10.3 points per game – right around his career average – and a career-high 8.8 assists per game. But his shot continued to be a problem; Rubio’s shooting percentage (35.6 percent) was a career low.
Saunders said the organization hopes that further rest will take care of the problem. At this point, he said, surgery is not an option.
“We’re hoping that rest, the next month, will put him in a situation where he’s going to be pretty healthy,” Saunders said. “I don’t think anyone thought it was going to take the turn that it took. They’re trying to do some different things to see if they can get him pain-free.’’
Rubio originally missed 42 games after the Nov. 7 injury, returning to action Feb. 2 at Dallas. But he had missed 11 of the last 12 Wolves games.
Meanwhile, Saunders said that both Kevin Garnett and Gary Neal practiced today, and there is a chance both will see some playing time before the season ends.
Garnett has missed the past 12 games with a sore knee. Neal has not played since injuring his ankle March 22.
That’s about it for now. Have a great weekend.
Greetings for a final time from Target Center, where the Wolves trailed from start to finish against an Orlando team that was very, very beatable tonight.
I must say, this was the most man-against-boys game I’ve covered in a while Nikola Vucevic destroyed the Wolves beat-up frontcourt, getting a career-high 37 points and 17 rebounds. He nearly had as many rebounds as the entire Wolves starting five.
The Wolves allowed the Magic 20 offensive rebounds and got just three themselves, matching a season low; Orlando got off 28 more shot attempts than the Wolves did, and yet this game was winnable until rather late in the fourth quarter.
Here are some final thoughts on the game:
--Kevin Martin struggled in his return from a hamstring injury. He missed his first seven shots. On the plus side, he rebounded to make three of his final five shots, get to the line seven times and finish with 12 points. He also had three assists and a rebound, just one fewer than both Andrew Wiggins and Adreian Payne
--Speaking of which, how can two starting forwards play a total of 60-plus minutes and combine for four rebounds?
--I will say this for Wiggins. He continues to get himself to the free throw line. He got there 13 times tonight, making 10. That’s what kept the Wolves in this game; they got 32 FT attempts to 17 for Orlando.
--Justin Hamilton did his best, but he’s just not ready for the likes of Vucevic yet. Hamilton had 14 points on 5-for-7 shooting and had nine rebounds. But he struggled to contain Orlando’s big man.
That’s about it for now. I’ll get back to you after the Wolves’ practice tomorrow.
It was a quiet, clearly dejected Nikola Pekovic who talked, briefly, with the media this morning after the Timberwolves’ shoot-around at Target Center.
His season over, with surgery looming, Pekovic acknowledged that he is concerned about his future – both on the basketball court and off.
“Of course I am,” he said. “I’m pretty much worrying about how this is going to affect my life in 10 years. I mean, I’m still thinking about basketball (too). But when you deal so much with something like this….. It’s a big deal, I think.’’
It is his ankle and foot problems that Pekovic has dealt with for so long. Ultimately, in what Pekovic described as “the last thing I can try,” he will undergo surgery next week to remove damaged tissue and repair his right Achilles tendon.
This has been a protracted situation. Pekovic was limited to 31 games by the pain this season. He only played in 54 last season. Indeed, as far back as 2012 Pekovic had surgery to remove bone spurs from the ankle.
The latest surgery – to be performed by Dr. Richard Anderson in Charlotte N.C. next Wednesday – is the most recent attempt to ease that pain. Pekovic has already tried different treatment approaches and custom-made orthotics.
It is unclear when Pekovic will be able to return to playing, assuming the surgery goes well.
“I’m going to try everything I can try to make my foot feel better,” he said.
That said, the ordeal has clearly taken its toll on Pekovic.
“It’s really tough,” he said. “It’s really tough, when you try to do everything, for like a year, and nothing helps you and you get to the point where you have to sit. But you have to deal with it, that’s all.’’
Meanwhile, Kevin Martin, who has missed the last six games because of a strained left hamstring, is set to return to action tonight.
Wolves center Nikola Pekovic will undergo surgery next week to remove damage and repair his right Achilles tendon.
Pekovic has played just 31 games this season because of the injury, which has bothered him and limited him to 54 games played a season ago.
Pekovic is expected to be out indefinitely -- there's only seven games left this season -- and it's not immediately known when he'd be able to return to court work this off-season or whether, depending on the damage, if the matter could potentially be career threatening.
The "debridement" surgery will be performed next Wednesday by Dr. Robert Anderson in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Flip Saunders the other day ruled Pekovic out for the rest of the season and before Wednesday's game said, "We’ve got to do something. We’re not just going to sit there. We tried different ways to let it heal, trying to be as proactive as we can…We have to re-evaluate what we do with him. He’s constantly seeing doctors the last three weeks. We’ll see where it takes us.”
The Wolves owe Pekovic nearly $36 million over the next three years beyond this one on a five-year contract he signed in summer 2013.
Andrew Wiggins gets another chance against his hometown team -- his second two weeks -- tonight when Toronto comes to Target Center.
He drew a crowd from the local and Toronto media after shootaround, where his dunks over Utah's Rudy Gobert Monday night were a popular topic.
Wolves guard Kevin Martin said he'll decide whether he'll play tonight when he wakes up from his pre-game nap and sees how his hamstrings feel, but he didn't sound too confident.
He did say if not tonight, then Friday vs. Orlando.
Didn't look from the little we see at end of shootaround like Ricky Rubio will play tonight, neither.
Kevin Garnett was at shootaround after being ill for most of the last week, but he isn't expected to play tonight, either.
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