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 are back at it tonight, and back at Staples Center for the second time in two nights.
This time, there's no 22-game losing streak against the opponent on the line.
Just a test whether the Wolves can come from Sunday's big 113-90 victory over the Lakers 24 hours later after asking a lot of their starters for the first three quarters.
A week ago, the Wolves won at New York while playing their starters big minutes and then came out the next night at Cleveland with dead legs on a night they trailed big and rallied only to lose when Kevin Love's winning three-pointer missed the final horn.
Well, Rick Adelman got a little prickly when I asked if he debated playing a guy like Love 33 of Sunday's first 36 minutes knowing Monday's game against a tough Clippers team awaited. He did get most of his starters out of the game for most of the fourth quarter when the Wolves pushed their big lead back up from 14 points at third quarter's end into the 20s.
“Everybody wants to look at that,” Adelman said when asked about starters’ playing time. “I wanted to win the game. I thought it was important. We’re trying to establish something. I don’t want to play people 45 minutes, but we’ve got to get ourselves to where we know what we’re doing and our bench hasn’t played real well. A lead can evaporate quickly.”
Adelman basically played a seven-man rotation Sunday, mixing reserves Dante Cunningham and J.J. Barea while he rotated his starters in and out of the game. He vowed after the game that those who didn’t play much Sunday – Derrick Williams, Alexey Shved, Robbie Hummel, etc. – will be asked to do more against the Clippers.
The Wolves didn’t have to travel Sunday night. They just went back to their Los Angeles-area hotel and came back to Staples Center the next night against a different opponent. Veteran Corey Brewer said playing time at this point in the season shouldn’t matter anyone.
“We can’t think like that,” Brewer said. “We’re young. We’re young guys with young legs. We’ve got to get it done.”
Dallas veteran forward Vince Carter is out for tonight's game against the Wolves at Target Center.
He was suspended by the NBA this morning for one game -- tonight's game -- for throwing an elbow and hitting Oklahoma City rookie Stevens Adams in the head during Wednesday's game in OKC.
Carter was accessed a Flagrant Foul 2 and ejected in the third quarter.
How much does that help the Wolves' cause in a meeting of two 3-2 teams from the West?
"I think it helps," Wolves star Kevin Love said. "He's a long-term vet guy, knows how to play, been in (coach Rick Carlisle's system. To not have him in there gives another guy a chance, but still, Carter can get hot from 3."
Kevin Love said he was suprised by receiving the Western Conference Player of the Week award today for leading the league in scoring (29.7 ppg) and leading his team to a 3-0 season start.
Not surprised that he won it this week, but rather...
"I had no idea, it's cool, I'm actually a little surprised I'd never won it before," he said before tonight's game at Cleveland. "But I'll just take a 3-0 start over any of that."
Love never won it before, not even that week when he had a 31-point, 31-rebound game against the Knicks in November 2010.
"I guess I never really paid attention to it," he said. "I've had good months, good weeks in the league thus far and the thing is, there's just so many good players in this league. In a lot of ways, it doesn't suprise me, either."
He probably never had won such an award before not because he wasn't deserving, but because his team hasn't been successful until this 3-0 season start.
"I do think it's a testament to winning," Love said. "If you win good things, happen for everybody."
Philadelphia rookie Michael Carter-Williams won the award in the East.
Wolves forward Kevin Love’s big week was rewarded by the league Monday.
Love was named the Western Conference player of the week -- the first such honor of his career -- for games played from opening day through Sunday.
He deserved it. After three games – all Wolves victories – Love leads the NBA in scoring (29.7 ppg) and is second in rebounds (14.7 rpg), free throws made (31) and free throws attempted (39). He has had a double-double in each of his games, increasing his total to 121 in his last 135 games.
Love had 31 points and 17 boards in a season-opening victory over Orlando, including a three-pointer with 10.1 seconds left that forced overtime. He had 24 points and 12 rebounds in a victory over Oklahoma City Friday, then had 34 points and 15 rebounds in Sunday’s victory over New York at Madison Square Garden. It was his fourth straight game of 30 or more points and 15 or more boards against the Knicks. By doing so Love joined Shaquille O’Neal as the second player since 1985-86 to record four straight 30/15 games against one opponent.
Love became the sixth different Wolves player in franchise history to win the award.
Philadelphia’s Michael Carter-Williams was named the Eastern Conference player of the week.
Oklahoma City and superstar Kevin Durant are in town for tonight's game against the Wolves at Target Center.
At shootaround today, Durant talked about coming back to the NBA arena that was something of his home away from home last summer.
Durant attended at least two Lynx games to watch his fiance, Lynx guard Monica Wright.
"Yeah, I did, I spent a lot of time here so I've got some people coming to the game," he said. "I feel Iike I'm a part of the city a little bit."
Durant also worked out with Wolves star Kevin Love in Los Angeles last summer because they share the same basketball-skills coach, Rob McClanaghan.
"We have the same trainer and I've been knowing Kevin since I was 14 years old," Durant said. "We just worked on everything. He's a great guy to work out with because he's so competitive and he's always wanting to get things right. I learned a lot."
Durant was asked if Love seemed to have an edge about him last summer after he missed all but 18 games a year ago because of a hand he broke not once, but twice.
"He just wanted to play, being injured the whole season," Durant said. "A freak accident, he just wanted to play. I could tell he was anxious to get back. I'm glad he's on the court. As a guy who likes Kevin as a person, I'm glad he's back playing the game he loves. He's playing well."
Durant tonight will face former teammate Kevin Martin, with whom he played last season.
"We miss having him around, just his attitude, his demeanor," Durant said. "He set a good example for the young guys. It's going to be fun playing against him."
The Thunder are playing without All Star guard Russell Westbrook, who is missng the season's opening weeks because of knee surgery complications from last spring much like Chase Budinger is having.
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