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 didn’t shoot around this morning, but the Houston Rockets did. Here are some items from Rockets coach Kevin McHale:
--Center Dwight Howard and guard Patrick Beverley will not play tonight. Both will miss their eighth straight game, Howard with a left ankle strain and Beverley with a right knee sprain. That gives the Rockets an expected starting five of Chandler Parsons and Terrence Jones at forward, Omer Asik at center and James Harden and Jeremy Lin at guard.
--The last time these two teams played Wolves rookie center Gorgui Dieng had 22 points and 21 rebounds, perhaps his most impressive performance in what is becoming a very impressive finish. Count McHale as a fan. “He kind of came out of nowhere,” McHale said. “He’s active around the rim. He’s rebounding very well, blocking shots.’’
--McHale also talked about how much better Wolves point guard Ricky Rubio has been of late. “He’s been way more aggressive from the games I’ve seen than he’s been in the past,’’ McHale said.
That’s about it for now. I’ll get back to you before the game with a Wolves injury update.
Well, things were going pretty well for the Wolves Wednesday. And then the second half happened.
In my opinion, the beat-up Wolves hit a wall tonight, with Nikola Pekovic, Kevin Martin, Chase Budinger, J.J. Barea and Shabazz Muhammad all out with injuries. The Wolves bench looked like an ad for Men’s Warehouse tonight.
Some other thoughts tonight:
--Alexey Shved, getting big minutes with Barea out, played very well in the first half, not so much in the second. Still, he tied a season high with five assists and scored nine points in 15-plus minutes.
--Kevin Love hyper extended his right elbow in the first quarter and he said it bothered him the rest of the way. I think there is at least a chance he doesn’t play Friday.
--Gorgui Dieng again struggled with his shot, but he had another nine points and eight rebounds. He also had three blocks.
--From the what-if department: RonnyTuriaf came off the bench to score 11 points with five rebounds in 16½ minutes of playing time. He brings the energy. Wonder what might have been had he stayed healthy all year.
--Kevin Love is treating his teammates to the Twins game tomorrow. Not a bad way to spend a day off.
The Wolves injury list got a little longer Wednesday. Backup point guard J.J. Barea will miss tonight’s game with back spasms and a sore neck. Wolves coach Rick Adelman said Barea got hit during Tuesday’s victory over San Antonio.
Add Barea’s name to a list that already includes Nikola Pekovic (ankle), Chase Budinger (ankle), Kevin Martin (foot) and Shabazz Muhammad (knee).
So what does that mean? That the Wolves will have only 10 healthy players available for tonight’s game, and one of those is recently-signed guard/forward Othyus Jeffers. It also means that Alexey Shved, who has seen his playing time dwindle as the season wore on, might get a bunch of minutes tonight.
“He and Ricky (Rubio), they’re our point guards tonight,” Adelman said. “So we’ll have to go with Alexey, and he’ll have to step up.”
It will be the same starting lineup for the Wolves: Rubio with Robbie Hummel, Kevin Love, Gorgui Dieng and Corey Brewer.
The Wolves have won three out of four games, and each has been a quality win: Miami on the road and home wins against Memphis and San Antonio.
Ultimately, of course, it means nothing. The Wolves are only playing for pride and, perhaps, a winning record.
Here are some thoughts coming out of the game:
--The Gorgui Dieng story continues. He didn’t shoot the ball particularly well tonight (4-for-15), but Dieng was not in awe of Tim Duncan. He finished with his sixth double-double (12 points and 15 rebounds and got a block, too. He has been something of a marvel these last few weeks.
--Ricky Rubio continues to play strong down the stretch. We saw everything from him tonight. He looked for and hit pull-up jumpers. He drove to the basket. He showed us that emerging runner. He hit a left-handed hook in the lane. He hit a career-high 10 field goals on the way to 23 points.
--The Wolves out-rebounded the Spurts by 15 tonight. Four players had seven or more rebounds.
--I thought Robbie Hummel played wells starting for Kevin Martin tonight. He started slow but ended up with nine points and seven rebounds.
--Corey Brewer is in the middle of a hot stretch. He had 14 points and four steals. It was the eighth time with 10 or more points in his last 10 games.
That’s about all for now. Have a good rest of your night.
Greetings. Wolves coach Rick Adelman just told us forward Dante Cunningham will dress and play tonight. Meanwhile, Meanwhile, the team sent out a statement from Cunningham that reads:
"The charges and accusations in my personal life have unintentionally placed my teammates and the organization in a challenging position. I cannot comment on the charges, as we require that the facts play out through the legal process. Thank you for your understanding."
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