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.
Wolves coach Rick Adelman flew home to Minneapolis after Tuesday's 110-101 comeback victory at Phoenix to spend a rare three-day break during a five-game road trip with his wife, Mary Kay.
She has not experienced further issues with a seizure condition that caused him to miss 11 games in January 2013 and a Feb. 10 home game against Houston, a team source said.
The Wolves will not practice Wednesday in Phoenix because they played three games in four nights ending Tuesday.
Assistant coach Terry Porter will coach practice Thursday and Friday in Phoenix before the team leaves later in the day on Friday for Sacramento.
Adelman is expected to meet the team there.
Well, it appears center Nikola Pekovic (ankle bursitis) and Kevin Martin (broken thumb) are getting closer to playing. But I don’t think either will play Saturday in Utah.
Wolves coach Rick Adelman said Pekovic, who has missed 10 games, again did drill work at Friday’s practice. Martin, meanwhile, did less than Pekovic. Martin got his left thumb looked at in the morning, and was scheduled to get a second opinion before the team left for Utah Friday afternoon.
Adelman said he was reasonable to expect both could play on the upcoming five-game road trip. But when? That’s the question.
“They’ve been out for a while,” Adelman said. “The biggest thing for Pek is how much soreness will he have and what kind of condition will he be in? Martin has been able to run. He should be OK as soon as the doctor says he can go. But I don’t know when that will be.”
So that means the Wolves, also without backup center Ronny Turiaf, will have to do some mixing and matching at the position in the short term. Rookie Gorgui Dieng will get more minutes. But his rawness on the offensive end and his proclivity for fouling means the Wolves can’t depend on him picking up the slack.
So look for Kevin Love to play some center on the defensive end, along with Dante Cunningham. Adelman said he’s loath to use Love there too much, not wanting to tire him out or put him in foul trouble. “Kevin has a lot of responsibility right now,” Adelman said. “he’s going to have to play the center some. But you’ve got to think about not wearing him down. So we’ll have to play that by ear.’’
Look for Cunningham to get a lot of minutes there. Also, when matchups allow the Wolves to go small, look for Luc Mbah a Moute to get minutes at the power forward position.
In other items:
--Both J.J. Barea and Chase Budinger expressed relief that the trade deadline has passed without any moves.
--Barea, who is 14-for-18 from the field his past two games, said he had been putting too much pressure on himself to score for the second unit. It wasn’t until he quit pushing things, he said, that the shots started to fall.
That’s about it. Jerry will be with the team in Utah tomorrow.
Greetings from Target Center
The Wolves didn’t really do much in the way of practicing today. They watched a lot of film – that couldn’t have been a lot of fun – and walked through a few things on the Target Center floor. Head coach Rick Adelman, who missed Monday’s loss to Houston for personal reasons, was not here today. But acting head coach Terry Porter said he still expected Adelman to coach the team Wednesday against Denver. The team has not disclosed why Adelman is away, but Adelman did miss 11 games last season tending to his ailing wife, Mary Kay.
And, after Monday’s game, Ricky Rubio said Adelman was coming back soon. “But, like everything in this life, family is first,” he said.This is the second practice Adelman missed this season. The other was because of the birth of a grandson.
Also, to nobody’s surprise, neither Nikola Pekovic (ankle) and Kevin Martin (thumb) are out for tomorrow’s game.
Here are some items from today’s interviews:
--The consensus is the team really needs to win its game Wednesday, not only to break a losing streak, but to give the team something to savor over the All Star break. “You always want to go into the All-Star break feeling confident,” Porter said. “So, hopefully, winning a game gives us a chance to go in there looking at things, then you get a chance to relax. Kind of revamp, review some things.’’
--The break is coming at a good time. Though Kevin Love is going to the All Star game, he should get a good bit of rest over the break and return refreshed. Also, there is a good chance that either Pekovic or Martin could return out of the break. In any event, going a full week without a game should give everyone more than enough rest.
--There is no question that the injuries and the losses are taking a toll on this team. “There are a lot of guys going down and others stepping up,” Rubio said. “But we just have to do it as a team. One player can’t win games. It’s something that this league is about every night. ‘’
That’s about it for now. I’ll get back to you after tomorrow’s morning shoot.
J.J. Barea chatted with reporters after practice on Monday about Saturday night's ejection in the fourth quarter at Atlanta after he refused to quit complaining to the officials about their work and was whistled for two technical fouls.
"I just got a little frustrated with a couple calls," he said. "The first technical was fine. I should have stopped after the first one, you know. I think I was a little frustrated when I got to the locker room, I let my teammates down a little bit by getting that second one. But if something happens to me every once in a while...I'm doing a better job lately. I've only gotten two technicals this year. So I've just got to let that one go."
He said he isn't worried about developing -- or exacerbating -- a reputation.
"No, I'm going to play the game I was raised to play," Barea said. "I care a lot. I compete. I'm going to get mad if things don't go my way. That's what got me here, so I'm going to keep doing it."
One other thing from practice: Nikola Pekovic had the protective boot on his foot at today's practice, but he still needs to be re-evaluated later this week before he'll know when he might play again.
The Wolves are walking that thin line between wanting to get him back ASAP so their chance at the playoffs doesn't slip from sight while he's out and allowing that bursitis enough time to settle down. It wouldn't surprise me a bit if they decide to let him rest through the All-Star break, which is six games away.
On Monday the Wolves won in Chicago against a Bulls team depleted by injuries, a problem magnified when starting center Joakim Noah was an injury-related scratch.
Ditto Wednesday night, when the Wolves finally pushed their way above .500 with a victory over an injury-depleted bunch of New Orleans Pelicans after rising star Anthony Randolph was a late scratch.
It will be far more difficult Friday when the Wolves host a Memphis team that, back to good health, is starting to make a serious run. The Grizzlies have won four straight – including home and away victories over Houston and a 17-point beating of the Blazers in Portland.
The Grizzlies have won nine of their last ten games.
Health? Center Marc Gasol, back after missing 23 games with a knee injury, has been a spark, with the Grizzlies going 7-1 since his return. Gasol and Memphis power forward Zach Randolph are a formidable pair, especially for a Wolves team without center Nikola Pekovic.
“They’ve proven the last two or three years they’re a really good team,” Wolves coach Rick Adelman said after Thursday’s practice. “They’re a playoff team. Without Gasol they struggled. But right now, they’ve had four really impressive wins. And they’ll defend us. They’re going to take things away from us. So it’s going to be a big challenge.’’
It doesn’t stop there. Memphis point guard Mike Conley – always a thorn in the Wolves’ side – is averaging a career-high 18.2 points per game along with 6.3 assists.
Six of the Grizzlies last eight opponents have failed to score 90 points. They will defend. And they will make it difficult for Kevin Love to get his shots. What can the Wolves do to counter that?
“There has to be more motion,” Adelman said. “Just more activity. [Wednesday] night it was the first game [Without Pekovic]. With Pek, they had to honor Pek all the time. And that would just naturally space the court for us. With Pek out now, if we post up Kevin, they’re going to double him. And so we have to have movement. Take it to one side, then come back.’’
Here are some other items from today’s practice:
--The players had a league-mandated meeting following practice.
--Adelman on Conley: “Conley is really good. He’s really good defensively. He’s got really good hands.’’
--Adelman likes the fact that Kevin Martin is getting more aggressive with his shot. But he still wants more. “I just think he continues to have to be more aggressive,” he said of Martin, who scored 18 points on 7-of-18 shooting Wednesday. Adelman wants Martin to be quicker with his shot. “I call it quicker taking his shot, and not massaging the ball. He’s got that explosiveness that, if he gets a step on a guy, he’s gonna get the shot off. I think he shoots better when he does that.’’
That’s about it for now. Jerry, back from his golfing adventure, will be covering the team tomorrow.
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