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.
Let the Adelman talk commence.
Wednesday’s victory in Milwaukee gave the Wolves their first winning streak since Dec. 15 and gave coach Rick Adelman his 999th career NBA victory.
Friday’s game with Toronto will be the first crack at 1,000, something many of the players in the locker room were talking about.
“Everybody is thinking about it,” center Nikola Pekovic said. “And I know we’ll all be honored to be a part of that.”
J.J. Barea said the prospects looked good for getting Adelman his 1,000th this season, something that couldn’t be said a few weeks ago.
But the Wolves are starting to play very well. They won their third straight road game for the first time this season and have won five of their last eight overall.
Here are some impressions of tonight’s game:
--What makes Pekovic’s 27 points tonight so impressive is that he did it against Larry Sanders. Not that Sanders is an All Star. But he is the kind of long player that sometimes gives Pekovic problems. Pek was very, very good again tonight. He had eight points in the first quarter, seven in the second, eight in the third and four in the fourth. That is consistency.
--Ricky Rubio had never hit more than two three-pointers in a game before. Then, tonight, he hits his first five. Rubio is 9-for-14 from three-point range his last six games.
--This team is really playing unselfish basketball. The Wolves got a season-high 33 assists tonight, and every one of the 10 Wolves who played got at least one. Eight had multiple assists.
--The Wolves’ 61.5 shooting percentage on three-pointers (8-for-13) was a season high.
That’s about all for now. Have a good night.
The Wolves scored 30 points in the first quarter of their game with the Grizzlies at Target Center Saturday. They scored just 36 in the entire second half.
The result was the 11th straight loss to Memphis on a night when just about nobody besides Greg Stiemsma (yes, the Steamer) and Ricky Rubio and Alexey Shved could hit a shot.
I think playing for a seventh time in 10 nights finally took its toll for the Wolves, who have a day off before hosting Boston Monday.
Here are some thoughts on the game:
--Forward Chase Budinger said his entire body felt sore playing on the back end of a back to back. Budinger, who played in his seventh game since returning from knee surgery, was clearly leg weary tonight. He made just one of six shots.
--Forward Dante Cunningham said his hand -- which he banged up Friday against Oklahoma City -- isn't bothering him. but he was just 2-for-8 for four points, missing a slew of open jumpers against his old team.
--Stiemsma played very well stepping in for the injured Nikola Pekovic. He played a game-high 40 minutes, scored 12 points on 5-for-7 shooting, had seven rebounds and two blocks.
--Ricky Rubio came one assist short of his second career triple-double. And he continued his recent trend of shooting better, going 6-for-12 on the way to a team-high 23 points.
--After guarding Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant in consecutive games, Andrei Kirilenko didn't have much left in the legs department either. He scored five points in 28-plus minutes.
That's about all for now. Jerry will cover Monday's game against the Celtics.
Cynics might bemoan the lottery implications of what happened in Auburn Hills Tuesday night. But the Wolves weren’t worrying about that. Not at all. One player after another talked about how much fun the 105-82 victory had been.
Indeed, it was a rather funny sight walking into the locker room after the game. More than half the players were peering intently at the final box score, which showed the Wolves had hit a season-high 14 three-pointers and had defended the heck out of the hapless Pistons.
“It’s always fun when you win like this,” Andrei Kirilenko said.
Here are some stats and thoughts on what happened in the Palace Tuesday:
--The Wolves’ seven third-quarter three-pointers was one off the team club record of eight that came in the first quarter of the Wolves game at Portland March 3, 2012.
--Seven players hit at least one three-pointer.
--Jerry did a nice story this week on Luke Ridnour, the Wolves’ iron man. On a night when everybody was playing well, he stood out. Ridnour hit on six of seven shots – hitting two of three three-pointers – and had three assists and three steals in 25½ minutes of play.
--None of the Wolves starters played more than Ricky Rubio’s 27:28, with none of those starters playing a minute in the fourth quarter. Maybe they’ll have some legs left for Wednesday’s game against the Lakers in Target Center.
--The Wolves’ 38 third-quarter points was a season high.
--You just have to love Barea’s toughness. The game was already well out of hand when, in the fourth quarter, he put up an airball. Now, the Palace was so devoid of fans and fan noise that catcalls could be heard everywhere. So what few fans are there start an air-ball chant. And what does Barea do? He takes – and hits – two straight three-pointers, quieting the chant. Barea scored 21, with 14 coming in the fourth quarter on 5-for-7 shooting.
That’s about it for tonight. Jerry will be covering tomorrow’s game.
A while after Sunday's game was over Wolves guard Ricky Rubio was sharing his admiration of the Chicago Bulls. Sunday the Bulls came to Target Center and, without the services of Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and Rip Hamilton -- beat the stuffing out of the Wolves.
And by that I mean physically beat up a Wolves team slowly returning to full health.
"I mean, they could complain about the guys they have hurt," Rubio said. "They don't do that. They play aggressive. We have to learn from that. If they can do that, we can do that, too.''
True enough. The Wolves got beaten on the boards and beaten to the punch. They spent more time complaining about calls to the officials than playing defense. Or at least that's the way it seemed. Minnesota finally came to play in the second half, but the Bulls never really relinquished control of the game.
Here are some more observations from tonight's game:
--Against the physical Bulls, both Nikola Pekovic and Andrei Kirilenko struggled. AK had just four points in nearly 26 minutes with just three rebounds. Pekovic ended up with 15 points, but he didn't get going until late.
--Derrick Williams ended up tying his career high with 28 points, and he did it on 11 for 18 shooting. Of those, 23 points came in the second half.
--Rubio was one fellow who played with intensity from start to finish.
That's about all for now. Jerry will be covering practice tomorrow. I'll be at Tuesday's game in Detroit..
After the game, Wolves forward Andrei Kirilenko was saying he felt about 60 percent after having played his first game in the month of March. Nikola Pekovic? He looked and sounded tired.
But both came up big Sunday. Pekovic had a key offensive rebound and two free throws and Kirilenko had two blocks in the closing seconds to seal the Wolves' win in a disjointed game in which neither team ever felt in control.
It was the Wolves' first win in a one-possession game since Dec. 12. Here are some reactions to the game:
--Derrick Williams continues to play with more and more confidence. After scoring a career-high 28 points he talked about how he's finally getting his confidence back 100 percent. He was good all night, finishing with an 8-point fourth quarter. His fade-away jumper from the baseline with 2:53 left was very impressive, cutting a three-point Hornets lead to one.
--Ricky Rubio was very efficient from the field, hitting seven of 11 shots -- including his only three-point attempt -- while scoring 16 points. Rubio is 26-for-55 (47.3 percent) from the field in his last four games.
--More on Williams: He has scored in double figures 13 straight games (a career-long stretch), and he got his seventh 20-point game of the season. It was his 14th game with two or more three-pointers. He has averaged 17.4 points and 8 rebounds his last 19 games.
That's about it for now. Jerry will be at tomorrow's game in Memph
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