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.
Flip Saunders said after Friday's morning shootaround in Oklahoma City that Kevin Garnett "for sure" will play tonight in Oklahoma City, but starting center Nikola Pekovic will be a game-time decision because of that ankle that limited him to eight minutes Wednesday in Phoenix.
That's the way it'll probably be here, a day to day situation depending on how much pain Pekovic is feeling in that ankle.
Without him for most of Wednesday's game, the Wolves relied upon newly acquired center Justin Hamilton to play 28 minutes off the bench.
Garnett hasn't played since Saturday's home victory over Portland.
Adreian Payne will start again at power forward tonight for the Wolves in a game at Phoenix while Kevin Garnett sits down for a second consecutive game.
Flip Saunders says Garnett won't miss a practice, but the two men have agreed to limit his game action, probably for several reasons.
For starters, Saunders said Garnett banged his knee before the All-Star break and still is having issues with it.
For another reason, he told Saunders when last month's trade was made that he'll sit out games but doesn't want to miss practices because he feels he can have more influence on the team's young players there.
Saunders said he also wants to see how Payne responds to Monday's 16-point, 15-rebound game and see if he can follow it with another energetic performance.
And then there's the reason Saunders won't talk about: Making sure the Wolves do nothing to leapfrog over teams in the standings, which would lessen their draft lottery chances.
Saunders said the Wolves probably won't practice tomorrow and said he expects Garnett will be well rested and ready to play Friday at Oklahoma City.
A couple other things as the Wolves play the second game in this four-game trip:
* Saunders said he'll try to limit Ricky Rubio's limits because he appears to be favoring his leg and he hopes to play Zach LaVine more at shooting guard here in the season's closing weeks as well. That would seem to mean you'll see more of Lorenzo Brown to accomodate those two aims.
* Robbie Hummel began dribbling with healing right shooting hand yesterday but still isn't near playing again. Saunders said he expects both Hummel and Anthony Bennett (sprained ankle) will play again before the season ends five weeks hence.
Kevin Garnett will not play tonight against the Clippers in Los Angeles.
Flip Saunders said it's partly because of a sore knee with which Garnett has been dealing and partly for rest.
Garnett played 21 minutes in Saturday's home victory over Portland. Monday's absence now will give him Sunday and Monday off and presumably a practice day Tuesday before Wednesday's game at Phoenix.
Adreian Payne will start at the power-forward spot and newly acquired Justin Hamilton likely will see his first action as a Wolf.
The Wolves today claimed 7-foot center Justin Hamilton off waivers and released rookie Glenn Robinson III to make room for him.
Hamilton, 24, was waived by New Orleans on Tuesday so the Pelicans could clear roster space and sign Elliot Williams.
Hamilton was a second-round pick by Philadelphia in 2012 who played college ball at Iowa State and LSU and played eight games with Charlotte and Miami last season and 24 games with the Heat this season before he was traded to New Orleans at the trade deadline.
He averaged 2.8 points and 2 rebounds in 24 games this season.
The trade gives the Wolves another big man behind Gorgui Dieng if center Nikola Pekovic's troublesome ankle limits or sidelines him for the season's remaining weeks.
The Wolves drafted Robinson in last summer's second-round, saying they landed a first-round talent in the second round.
The team planned on having him play a good part of this season in the D League, but that never materialized because of the injuries that hit the Wolves this season and they needed him around to have a reasonable roster with which to practice.
He played 25 games, averaging 1.2 points and 4.3 minutes.
Expect both Kevin Martin and Nikola Pekovic back in the lineup for tonight's game against Denver at Target Center.
Pekovic said his hurting ankle feels better after he didn't play Monday and the team didn't practice on Tuesday.
He said there's a "big chance" he'll play tonight, but needs to talk the matter over with the team's staff and warm up before the game to see how it feels.
He said he has begun a new treatment, one he specified only as "some laser thing, whatever, some new machine."
Asked if it has helped, he said, "I don't know, how does it affect you after two days? We'll see. We'll see tonight."
Meanwhile, Martin was back at morning shootaround after he, too, missed Monday's loss to the L.A. Clippers. He was ill that night.
He said Wednesday he feels better after taking the doctor's advice on Monday.
In November, Martin fell ill, took IVs during the day and disregarded doctor's advice that he not play.
He went out and had a big game, but also broke his wrist that night.
"I told him I'm not going to fight him because last time I fought him four hours before the game, I missed 2 1/2 months," Martin said. "So I listened to his words this time."
The Wolves tonight play a Denver team that beat Milwaukee at home last night just hours after the Nuggets fired coach Brian Shaw and replaced him on an interim basis with assistant coach Melvin Hunt.
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