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.
Ricky Rubio arrives at Madison Square Garden a starter and feeling fine tonight for the first time in his three NBA seasons.
The Wolves didn't play there during his rookie season, when the NBA lockout shortened the season to 66 games and created an uneven schedule.
Last season, he was just in his first week back from knee surgery when the Wolves visited just before Christmas.
Kevin Love missed that game, too.
Now both are back and presumably ready."Last year I wasn't myself, coming back from an injury, four or five games in," Rubio said. "I was feeling good but my knee wasn't ready. Now I feel pretty good."
The Wolves are playing without injured backup center Ronny Turiaf, who broke his elbow Friday night against Oklahoma City. Rookie Gorgui Dieng will get most of his minutes tonight.
Knicks star Amare Stoudemire won't play in his measured return from injury and J.R. Smith still is serving a season-opening league suspension.
The Wolves are going for their just the second 3-0 start in team history. The only other Wolves team to do so was the 2001-02 team that started 6-0.
An MRI performed Saturday morning revealed a radial head fracture in backup center Ronny Turiaf’s right elbow. Turiaf will be re-evaluated next week to determine an approximate timetable for his return.
Turiaf was injured at the 10:17 mark of the second quarter of Friday's victory over Oklahame City when, off-balance, he crashed to the floor.
The good news is that surgery will not be needed. But Turiaf is likely out at least a few weeks.
And that will force Wolves coach Rick Adelman to shuffle some things in his rotation.
“Obviously G will get his chance,” Adelman said of rookie center Gorgui Dieng, who was drafted by the Wolves with the 21st overall pick in the 2013 draft.
The post position, which looked so deep just a few days ago, is less so now. Turiaf, a vocal leader, was a valuable defender off the bench at the center position.
Now Adelman will have to use Dieng to back up starter Nikola Pekovic. Adelman said he will also slide Kevin Love into the five position more often as well, though he wants to avoid doing it too much.
“We don’t want to do that as a consistent thing,” Adelman said. “I like doing it at the end of games, because it forces (the opponent’s) hand. Plus, you don’t want him playing against guys who are going to attack him in the post. It’s not his strong suit. … Hopefully Pak and G can do it. G was a little nervous (Friday) night. But he’s played and he’s done a decent job. I think the more he plays the better he’ll be.’’
Dieng got his first action of the regular season in the Wolves’ one-sided victory Friday. He played 14½ minutes. He missed the only shot he took, was 0-for-4 from the free throw line and committed four fouls.
Adelman can also use Dante Cunningham in spots against teams fielding small lineups.
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.
Wolves coach Rick Adleman had a couple things to say about Derrick Williams. First, the third-year forward will get his chance to play. Second, we should all calm down on the issue.
“I don’t worry about him as much as you guys do,” Adelman said after Thursday’s practice. Williams, who works at both forward positions, did not play in Wednesday’s opening-night victory over Orlando. A former second-overall pick, Williams’ playing time has fluctuated since he joined the team.
“He’s going to get a chance to play when it looks like there is a good opportunity for him,” Adelman said. “But there are other guys, too. Right now Robbie Hummel’s played very well, the whole month he’s been here. It could be one of those guys. It could be (Shabazz Muhammad), who has played well. Nobody has separated himself. (Williams’) best spot is the four spot, and it’s almost impossible to get him minutes at the four spot.”
Williams, asked about his situation, said he wasn’t disappointed. “No, we won, you can’t be disappointed when we win,” he said.
But on the matter of patience? “I’ve been patient two years now,” he said. “So we’ll see. I don’t know.’’
Interestingly, Williams retweeted an item originally tweeted by Los Angeles Clippers forward Jamal Crawford Wednesday night. “Watched a bunch of games tonight,” Crawford wrote. “One thing that is clear. Situation, and opportunity has a lot to do with success in the NBA.’’
“That’s all the NBA is, opportunity,” Williams said. “That’s why I retweeted it.”
But when will his come? The power forward position is where Kevin Love plays, and Dante Cunningham is usually his backup. That leaves the small forward position. And for Williams to play there, Adelman said he needs to see the right matchup.
“I have to make a decision, is that the best thing for our team as a whole?” Adelman said. “Like I told all those guys who didn’t play last night, it’s an 82-game schedule. That’s one game. There is a lot of time left. He certainly will get his opportunity. Against (Oklahoma star Kevin) Durant you could see half the team getting an opportunity.’’
Williams could see time at the small forward position against the Knicks Sunday if Carmelo Anthony were the matchup there, for example. “It’ s just a matter of how the game goes,’’ Adelman said. “I guess I can’t answer it directly, because I’m still trying to get a feel for what’s going on and how they’re going to play. That’s the way it is.”
Said Williams: “I’m just here to play basketball. Whenever my name is called I’m going to be in there.”
In other items:
--Adelman, very pleased with how Corey Brewer played with the starting unit, pledged to keep him there going forward. “Corey really showed what he could do last night,” Adelman said.
--One key to avoiding the offensive stagnation that plagued the Wolves at times Wednesday is having the point guards push the ball. Adelman said he and his staff were constantly trying to get Ricky Rubio and J.J. Barea to get the ball over half court more quickly and into the offense. “They were almost at 16 seconds (on the shot clock) when they hit half court,” Adelman said. “You don’t have enough time to run anything. They have to push the ball, every time. And the ball should pass half-court at 20 seconds.’’
That’s about it for now. Jerry will pick up the team tomorrow morning.
Puffs of white smoke floated from the Target Center stacks early this evening. We have a decision:
Corey Brewer will start tonight at small forward, and Rick Adelman didn't even use one of those coins Flip Saunders is giving everybody today to decide.
Adelman said he reserves the right to change that starting lineup when the Wolves play Oklahoma City on Friday and at New York on Sunday, but for now Corey is your starter.
"He's played well with that first group," Adelman said. "We want to get off to a good start, use his energy and we'll go from there."
The Magic will start second-year Moe Harkless at small forward. It only gets harder this week after that.
"We only have (Kevin) Durant and (Carmelo) Anthony after that," Adelman said. "This is just the start of 82. We'll figure it out."
Adelman said he's not sure who he uses at small forward once Brewer comes out. He said that will depend on the Magic lineup: If they go small, he said he could counter by playing three guards.
|Vikings (12)||Wolves news (876)|
|Bears (1)||Lions (1)|
|Packers (3)||Super Bowl (2)|
|Injury report (1)||On the road (50)|
|Rookies (26)||Roster moves (3)|
|Vikings draft (41)||Vikings trade talk (2)|
|NBA playoffs (1)||Wolves coaches (69)|
|Wolves draft news (50)||Wolves guards (41)|
|Wolves injury report (308)||Wolves management (135)|
|Wolves players (466)||Wolves postgame (270)|
|Wolves practice news (138)||Wolves pre-game (316)|
|Wolves trade talk (77)||Wolves training camp (48)|
|Adrian Peterson (3)||Sidney Rice (2)|