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 will play on against Washington tonight without Andrei Kirilenko and Nikola Pekovic at Target Center, but...
Kevin Love and Chase Budinger both said today that they will confer with doctors next week in the hope of returning to game action within a week or two after that.
Love said he will visit his New York City hand surgeon next Wednesday and then join the team in time for that Friday's game at Houston.
He said he wouldn't jump straight in and play against the Rockets even if he gets doctor's clearance, like he did when he returned in November from the first time he broke that right shooting hand.
But he made it clear he hopes it won't be too much longer after that.
He said the difference between this time and last time is "surgery," and probably a little more conservative tack to his return.
"It's really up to the doctors and myself and Glen (Taylor) and David (Kahn) and pick where to go from there," Love said.
Love said he was "right on schedule" to play within eight to 10 weeks from his Jan. 15 surgery
Eight to 10 weeks would be between next Tuesday's game against San Antonio and a March 26 game at Detroit.
After that March 15 Houston game, the Wolves play New Orleans at home on a Sunday, at Memphis on Monday and at Sacramento and Phoenix that next Thursday and Friday.
Expect he'll play sometime in that week.
Budinger, meanwhile, said he will confer by phone with Dr. James Andrews on his knee next Tuesday, hoping to get clearance to practice after that with the intent that he could play within a week or two after that.
As J.J. Barea predicted last night that it would, that flagrant foul type 2 he received for throwing himself into Miami's Ray Allen got downgraded to a flagrant foul type 1 today by the NBA.
He got an automatic ejection when the officials reviewed what he called a "little bump" on Allen after Allen drove on him, extended an arm shiver and Barea staggered backward, as he has been known to do, without a foul called.
"The NBA did a good job looking at it, making sure," Barea said after practice Tuesday morning. "It wasn' t that bad."
He missed the game's final eight minutes after being ejected.
In that time, the Heat turned a six-point lead into a 15-point bulge, thanks in part to two free throws for Barea's flagrant foul and another free throw after Rick Adelman got a technical for protesting the officials' decision.
Barea left after a 1-for-11 shooting night.
"I wasn't that mad," he joked. "The way I was shooting it, I was like, `Get me out of here.' They did me a favor."
Said Adelman: "I expected it. What (Golden State's) Jarrett Jack did in a game a week ago was far worse than that. I expected that to happen. It doesn't change the course of the game last night, which is an unfortunate thing. At least they did change it."
Adelman also said this after practice today.
"You notice he wore his sleeveless shirt today to show off his muscles. Maybe he's looking for a new career."
One other thing from practice:
* Both Andrei Kirilenko (strained calf) and Nikola Pekovic (abdomnial strain) will be held out of all three games this week -- at least through Sunday's gmae against Dallas -- to let their injuries heal before they're re-evaluated on Monday.
Adelman has started Mickael Gelabale at Kirilenko's small-forward spot and Greg Stiemsma at Pekovic's center spot the last two games, but he played Dante Cunningham and Derrick Williams together as his forwards a lot Monday against the Heat, so that's another way he could go.
LeBron James is warming up before tonight's game against the Wolves at Target Center intending to play, Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said.
James came down wrong on his knee in Sunday's comeback victory at New York but played on anyone.
He had a doctor look at the knee earlier on Monday but Spoelstra and teammate Chris Bosh both expected he'll play.
"His leg would probably have to fall off for him to miss a game," Bosh said.
At last check, James appeared to have both legs intact tonight.
The Wolves, meanwhile, will continue to play without starters Andrei Kirilenko and Nikola Pekovic, both of whom remain out tonight.
(And, yes, of course, Kevin Love remains out, too).
Wolves coach Rick Adelman said Pekovic's MRI taken of an abdominal strain on Monday didn't show any structural damage, but both he and Kirilenko (strained calf) still were experencing soreness Monday with no indication when exactly either will return.
The Wolves again will start Mickael Gelabale at small forward and Greg Stiemsma at center.
The Wolves are down to nine healthy guys once again now that starters Andrei Kirilenko and Nikola Pekovic both are out for tonight's game at Portland.
Greg Stiemsma will replace Pekovic at center after big Pek sustained an abdominal strain on Thursday in Los Angeles at the Lakers.
And Mickael Gelabale will start at small forward for Kirilenko, who remains out because of a strained calf.
Meanwhile, Brandon Roy met with media before the game, his first back at the Rose Garden accompanying the Wolves even though he won't play.
He said he got excited just flying back into Portland with the team yesterday and said he hopes to resume practicing with the team when it returns from this three-game trip and still hopes he can play some when injured Kevin Love and Chase Budinger return for the final weeks of the season.
He stayed at his Portland home Friday night.
"Just going back home brings back memories of some really special nights here in the Rose Garden," Roy said. "I have so many memories from my very first season right up until my last that I forget things that people remind about. Like, `Oh, yeah, that was a big moment.' That's what you want coming into this league, to create memories.
"I have a lot of special ones, especially in this building."
Roy said he remains hoepful he can still salvage something from this season.
"I don't know, I'm not sure," Roy said when asked what kind of player he hopes he can return to. "I wouldn't know how to answer that. As long as I can play and not in too much pain, I'll be happy with that."
The Wolves will play on tonight in Los Angeles against the Lakers without Andrei Kirilenko.
He's out with that strained calf sustained in Tuesday's 84-83 overtime loss at Phoenix.
This injury follows those back spasms in November and a strained quad just before the All-Star break. Add 'em all together and Kirilenko says if this were Russia, he'd probably go to church and light a candle for himself.
What the heck, it couldn't hurt for this Wolves team, could it?
His absence proves particularly troublesome tonight because it leaves Rick Adelman without one more option to defend Kobe Bryant, who is both scoring (35.7 ppg) and distributing (6.7 assists).
Now he'll have to depend on Mickael Gelabale or ask Alexey Shved or Luke Ridnour to defend him.
A couple other things following this morning's shootaround at the Clippers practice facility:
* Brandon Roy says he plans to sit behind the bench for Saturday's game at Portland, his first return to the arena where he played his first five NBA seasons.
"I don't know how I feel because I'm not playing," he said. "It'll be different."
* Derrick Williams might not be a changed man coming back home to L.A. this time, but he is different.
He is averaging 18.8 points and 10.6 rebounds in his last five games and has earned enough trust from Rick Adelman that Adelman designed Tuesday's final play with him in mind (it was drawn up with options for both Williams and Shved, who got to the basket but missed the game-winning shot.)
"Just more confidence," Williams said.
* Tonight's game is the last of three TNT appearances for the Wolves. Marv Albert, Mike Fratello and Craig Sager will work the telecast.
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