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.
Wolves starting center Nikola Pekovic will miss his second consecutive game -- tonight at Dallas -- because his right ankle remains too sore for him to play.
He is not expected to play tomorrow either in Houston against a Rockets team that will be without All-Star Dwight Howard.
Pekovic hasn't run on that ankle since leaving Friday's game at Charlotte in the third quarter.
Rookie Gorgui Dieng will start in his absence tonight instead for the second straight game after getting his first NBA start on Sunday against Sacramento.
Howard had part of a cyst and fluid drained from his ankle on Wednesday and he told Houston Chronicle beat writer Jonathan Feigen he will not play until Saturday at the earliest.
Howard didn't play in Monday's home victory over Utah. Until then, he had been the only Rocket who played in every game this season.
You want the good news or the bad news first?
Let's go bad news:
Nikola Pekovic will not play for the Wolves tonight against Sacramento because of that hurting right ankle/foot that caused him to leave Friday's game at Charlotte early in the third quarter.
He said before tonight's game that it remained too painful to really test it out Saturday or Sunday and he is hopeful two consecutive days off before the Wolves play again on Wednesday at Dallas will allow it to settle down.
Rick Adelman said rookie Gorgui Dieng will start in Pekovic's place against Kings star center DeMarcus Cousins before we learned the good news for the Wolves...
Cousins is out too, sidelined for this final game of the Kings' long seven-game road trip by right knee tendinitis.
The Wolves would have gone small with Dante Cunningham in the starting lineup instead if the Kings started Jason Thompson at "center" but Sacramento instead will go with 7-foot Aaron Gray, which means Dieng will indeed get his first NBA start.
The Denver Nuggets went 1-8 without star guard Ty Lawson in the lineup for most of February, but he's coming back from a fractured rib just in time for tonight's game in Denver against a Wolves team looking to end its longest road trip of the season 4-1.
Lawson will start for the Nuggets and he told coach Brian Shaw he's ready to play all 48 minutes, which, of course, he won't do.
Shaw said he expects Lawson to be a "little rusty" but added the response of Lawson's teammates at Monday's shootaround is an indication that whatever Lawson can give will be good.
"Everybody was in a good mood because of that," he said, referring to Lawson's return. "When you add that element of speed, he makes everything easier for everybody else."
Wolves coach Rick Adelman called the Nuggets a "totally different team" with their most explosive player back.
"He's the guy who gets their engine going," Adelman said. "The first two times they had him, we lost. We have to find ways to control him."
The Wolves lost to the Nuggets twice in November when Lawson played and thumped Denver at home last month during that nine-game stretch when he was out injured.
Both Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Martin said before tonight's game that they came through Saturday's return at Sacramento feeling fine physically.
: it’s a totally different team, he’s the guy who gets their engine going, they’ve got five in a row and 1-8 woithout him, so he’s back, all those athletes they have, he delviers the ball and gets them going, so its first two times they had him, we lost, we have to find ways to cpnotrol him
Wolves just wrapped up shootaround in Sacramento with Rick Adelman back after he returned from three days away and both Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Martin said afterward they are well enough to start and play against the Kings.
How much, neither could say.
Both practiced and scrimmaged 5-on-5 with their teammates on Thursday and Friday in Phoenix to prepare themselves to play again after weeks away.
"Two days to work out and I wake up not sore or nothing," Pekovic said. "The pain still is going to be there but hopefully it's not going to get worse. You can handle certain amount of pain. I just hope I don't go over it. For now, it's good. The last few days have been good. My conditioning is going to come, of course. I'll need four or five days to come back to that shape I was before. I'm more concerned about than my conditioning."
Still, he'll have to come back after a month away by banging with big Kings center DeMarcus Cousins, who returns tonight after serving a one-game suspension for Friday's game against the Lakers in L.A.
Martin said he'll still have pain, too, in that healing fractured thumb on his left shooting hand and said he used the last two days of practice to figure out how to catch with it.
"I'm sure I'll figure out more during the game," he said. "I have a good idea. Right now, it's just about getting back out there and helping the team in whatever way you can...I feel good enough to play. Couple good days of practice and everything felt good, so I'm ready to play."
Martin said he isn't concerned about his conditioning. He hasn't played since breaking that thumb Feb. 7 at New Orleans. Pekovic has played since Jan. 27 at Chicago because of ankle bursitis.
"Maybe a little but hopefully not once you get in a game and your adrenaline starts going,," Martin said when asked if he thinks conditioning will be a factor. "I'm a little gazelle, skinny guy. I can run all day."
Adelman was back at shoot after he flew home following Tuesday's victory at Phoenix to spend that three-day break with his wife, Mary Kay.
Just an update from earlier:
Nikola Pekovic won't play tonight. It'll be the 13th consecutive game he has missed.
The Wolves again will start Dante Cunningham in the frontcourt alongside Kevin Love and Corey Brewer.
Kevin Martin, as I reported in the blog post from this morning's shootaround, won't play either.
The status of both Pekovic and Martin for Saturday's game at Sacramento is unknown at this point.
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