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.
Chase Budinger declared himself ready to play tonight in Sacramento for the first time in four months.
He said his surgically repaired knee felt fine when he awoke Thursday morning in Sacramento after participating in his first contact practice with teammates on Wednesday.
"It just felt good to go up and down and see how the knee felt, go up and down and see how my wind was," Budinger said. "It was just a good indication where I'm at. I am a little rusty, but hopefully I got all the rust out yesterday."
Neither Budinger nor Rick Adelman knew how much Budinger will play tonight against the Kings.
Adelman called it a "perfect storm" that he is limiting Andrei Kirilenko to six minutes stretches and now will probably do so with Budinger.
"Maybe we'll just keep alternating them back and forth until somebody tells me they're at their limit," Adelman said.
The Wolves are back at it tonight in Memphis, just 24 hours after Andrei Kirilenko and Nikola Pekovic returned from injury and each made big plays that beat New Orleans in the final seconds on Sunday.
Rick Adelman played Kirilenko nearly 25 minutes last night, nearly five minutes more than he was advised.
But Kirilenko did come up with two huge blocked shots at the end to save the game.
"I think they would prefer not to have him play 20 minutes," Adelman said, referring to the team's training staff. "I hedged a bit last night. If it was an average (of 20 minutes) over two nights, that means he has to play 16 tonight. I don't know, but you have to be a little careful with him with the calf.
"But Pek says he feels good. I thought he got winded and made some mistakes. Hopefully we can play him as much as we played him last night."
Pekovic played 24:22 against the Hornets.
A couple other things:
* Chase Budinger continues to work out hard with coaches and said it's possible he could make his return Thursday at Sacramento, IF he comes through his first 5-on-5 practice Wednesday feeling good.
"It all depends on how I practice," he said before tonight's game, adding he's moving better and his conditioning is coming along but that there's no substitute for playing in games.
* Brandon Roy shot before tonight's game, but Adelman said he has not been given any indication that Roy is close to practicing again, let alone playing.
Center Nikola Pekovic and forward Andrei Kirilenko will both play tonight when the Wolves take on New Orleans at Target Center.
Kirilenko had missed nine straight games since straining his left calf Feb. 26 at Phoenix. Pekovic had missed eight games with an abdominal strain.
It appears both will start, though coach Rick Adelman was being cagey about it. "Could start 'em, could bring 'em off the bench, may start one," he joked. " I don't know. I'm getting a lot of input from the assistant coaches. My tendency is to start 'em. They're two of our best players. But there are matchups out there, things we're looking at. I want to see how they perform. I think the best way to do that is to start 'em. I would hate not to start 'em, and have 'em come into the game and pull something. Then it's on me. I'm not going to do that."
So now the Wolves, who played with just nine available players so far this March, are at 11. It appears neither will be limited in minutes by injury concerns. The most important thing is conditioning.
Meanwhile, Adelman had no update on Chase Budinger. I would think we'll know a lot more about him when the team practices next, which should be Wednesday.
That's about it for now. I'll get back to you after the game.
San Antonio will be almost as shorthanded as the Wolves in tonight's game.
The Spurs managed to beat Oklahoma City Monday at home without star guard Tony Parker, who has a left ankle sprain and wasn't expected to play tonight. But then the Spurs announced Tuesday that forwards Tim Duncan and Kawhi Leonard were both left at home with sort left knees.
Leonard missed 18 games earlier this season with quadriceps pain. Duncan sat four games in late January to rest the knee.
Parker is averaging 21 points and 7.6 assists. Duncan is averaging 16.6 points and 9.6 rebounds and Leonard is averaging 11.3 points and 5.4 rebounds.
The Wolves finish up their season series with the streaking Nuggets tonight in Denver, a place where the home team is 28-3 and hasn't lost since losing to Washington on Jan. 18.
One of those three teams, though, was the Wolves.
That was way back on Jan. 3, the night Kevin Love broke his hand for the second time this season and the Wolves came roaring back to win without him.
Mighty Miami is the only other team to beat the Nuggets at home.
The Nuggets haven't lost anywhere since a Feb. 22 defeat at Washington.
They have won their last seven -- four of them at home -- since then.
The Wolves will be fighting against the odds again tonight because they once again have only nine players healthy.
Love, Nikola Pekovic and Andrei Kirilenko, among others, are back home, but Brandon Roy is here traveling with his teammates.
The Wolves fly home right after tonight's game and play Dallas tomorrow night at Target Center in a 6 o'clock tip.
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