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.
Mo Williams will miss his third consecutive game tonight against Golden State at Target Center because of back spasms, which means perhaps another 40-minute plus game from rookie Zach LaVine.
Shabazz Muhammad said after this morning's shootaround that he was headed next door to get a MRI on his hurting and swollen ankle but said, barring anything unforesee, he expects to play with the pain tonight against a 17-2 Warriors team that owns the NBA's best record.
"It feels good, it's still sore but we're down some guys, I'll be fine," he said. "I'm a pretty tough guy. I'll play through it and see how it works out tonight."
Of course, Ricky Rubio, Kevin Martin, Nikola Pekovic and Ronny Turiaf also all remain out, although I saw Ricky shooting three-pointers with no crutches or walking boot after the morning shootaround today.
Without Williams, the Wolves will rely on LaVine as their iron-man starter and Corey Brewer as the makeshift backup point guard.
The Warriors arrive with a 12-game winning streak and that league-best record.
I guess with that 17-2 record it's a good thing they decided not to include Klay Thompson in a deal for Kevin Love last summer, huh?
"Apparently," new Warriors coach Steve Kerr said.
Greetings from the AT&T center here in San Antonio, where the Wolves and Spurs will go at it in about a half an hour.
The Wolves had further travel woes. They got to their charter plane last night about 11 p.m., but mechanical issues kept the plane on the tarmac until after 2 a.m. The wheels weren’t up until about 2:20, and the team didn’t get to their hotel until about 5 a.m.
Such is life in the NBA.
Mo Williams (back) did not make the flight, which again means a lot of minutes for Zach LaVine. Indeed, Mo wasn’t the only one with a back back. Assistant coach Sam Mitchell, who had an injection for a sore back earlier in the week, didn’t make the trip, either.
Meanwhile, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich initially said that Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili would not play tonight. Parker aggravated a hamstring Friday in Memphis, and Popovich regularly rests his older veterans. But then, later, came word that Duncan would dress. We’ll see if he’ll play.
That’s about it for now. I’ll get back to you after the game.
I’m guessing this won’t be the last time I will write about Wolves rookie Andrew Wiggins being honored.
Wiggins was named as the NBA’s Western Conference rookie of the month for November.
Wiggins becomes the sixth player to win the award. The others: Gorgui Dieng (March 2014), Ricky Rubio (January 2012), Kevin Love (March 2009), Randy Foye (December 2006) and Stephon Marbury (January 1997).
Wiggins averaged 11.6 points (second among league rookies behind Milwaukee’s Jabari Parker), 3.7 rebounds and 1.1 steals in 15 games, all starts. Among Western Conference rookies Wiggins was first in scoring, steals and minutes played, second in blocks and third in rebounding.
He led all rookies in three-point shooting (44.0 percent).
“I think he’s had a solid month,” Wolves coach Flip Saunders said. Still, like any coach, Saunders will say it hasn’t been perfect. Saunders said he continues to encourage Wiggins not to waste minutes on the floor, to play hard all the time. “I want him to run harder,” Saunders said. “I know that’s something he can do.’’
That said, Saunders praised Wiggins on-ball defense. A skill that, in many ways, is the hardest for a young player to learn at this level.
Sorry for the delayed blog, running late on Pacific time out here on the second part of back-to-back games...
The Wolves went with the same starting lineup tonight against the Clippers in their second game in LA in three days after a quick trip to Portland and back.
That means Andrew Wiggins again was in the starting lineup. He said he was feeling much better -- "thank you" -- tonight than Sunday in Portland, where he received IVs before the game and played just 18 minutes because he was ill.
The Clippers are back for the first time from a seven-game trip in which they went 6-1.
The Wolves are headed home tomorrow morning from this three-game trip with a dangerous meeting Wednesday at Target Center against Philadelphia, which will be trying to avoid tying a NBA record for most consecutive losses to start a season. They are 0-17 now after losing to San Antonio tonight.
Just when the Wolves add one healthy player, another gets sick.
Rookie Andrew Wiggins has been ill all day, getting IVs because of apparently a virus that's been going around. He was in the locker room 45 minutes before game time, wearing his warmups, but never looking too clever.
Flip Saunders called him "literally" a game time decision for tonight's game at Portland.
He's in the initial starting lineup and plans to warm up and see how he feels, but I expect he'll try to play.
If he can't, Saunders said Shabazz Muhammad will get the call at small forward.
Meanwhile, newcomer Jeff Adrien arrived in Portland late Saturday night and said he's ready to play as much as Saunders asks.
He was in the locker room pre-game studying on the computer with one of the Wolves' video experts.
Saunders said they had looked around at a limited supply of big guys and chose Adrien, who played 53 games with Milwaukee and Charlotte last year, because he has NBA experience and the kind of strength and toughness the injury-depleted team needs.
Saunders acknowledged Adrien's arrival is an indication that Nikola Pekovic won't be back in game shape for at least 10 days or two weeks probably, best case.
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