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.
If Gregg Popovich thought the Wolves were shorthanded and it wasn't a fair fight earlier this season, well, get a load of tonight:
The Wolves are down to eight healthy players for tonight's 6 p.m. game at San Antonio.
Ricky Rubio, Nikola Pekovic and Gary Neal all are out because of injured ankle. Kevin Garnett is out, too, presumably because of that knee that Flip Saunders will get another look from doctors when the team returns from this four-game trip after tonight's game.
And don't forget, Anthony Bennett, Shabazz Muhammad and Robbie Hummel all remain out as well.
That means you'll see lots and lots of Zach LaVine, Gorgui Dieng, Justin Hamilton, among others. You might even see a lot of Lorenzo Brown as well against a Spurs team that had won six straight before Kyrie Irving scored 57 points to beat them in overtime on Thursday.
It also means LaVine, Kevin Martin, Andrew Wiggins, Dieng and Hamilton are your starting five for tonight's game.
Scratch that "for sure" bit about Kevin Garnett playing tonight in Oklahoma City.
He's out, as is starting center Nikola Pekovic.
The Wolves are citing Garnett's sore knee. Pekovic said before the game the pain in his ankle is still "bad" after he played just eight minutes Wednesday in Phoenix.
Adrien Payne will start at power forward and Gorgui Dieng at center in their places.
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.
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