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.
Greetings from Target Center.
The Wolves will try to forget about last night’s loss in Washington with a better effort against a Clippers team that had a four-game winning streak ended in Memphis Monday night. The Clippers had yesterday off, while the Wolves are playing the back end of a back-to-back.
Some items for tonight’s game:
--The Clippers will be without top reserve Matt Barnes tonight because of a sore eye. Clippers coach Doc Rivers wasn’t sure pre-game how Barnes minutes would be divvied up.
--Much was made of Rivers having walked nearly to midcourt to call a time out late in the Clippers narrow victory over the Wolves Nov. 11. Wolves president of basketball operations Flip Saunders was giving Rivers – who got the time out and wasn’t called for a technical – about it. To which Rivers said, “Flip, of all people? My gosh. When he was over there talking about it, I said, ‘Flip, you coached from mid-court. Are you kidding me?’ ‘’
--Rivers on power forwards Kevin Love and Blake Griffin. “We were talking about how often they’re compared and how different they are. You couldn’t have two more different players. But when you look at just numbers, they look the same.’’
-The Wolves will be looking to get more out of shooting guard Kevin Martin, who will be trying to bounce back from Tuesday’s 4-for-17 performance.
--Another thing to watch for: turnovers. Washington made the Wolves pay for their turnovers Tuesday. They have to take better care of the ball tonight.
That’s about it for now. I’ll get back to you after it’s over.
Wolves are about to tip it off here in Washington against the Wizards in a game that starts another five games-in-seven days stretch.
And there's all kind of storylines here on a night when rookie Shabazz Muhammad again is unavailable because of a sprained right ankle:
Flip Saunders came in early for the game, arriving Sunday to check out the condo he still owns here from his Wizards' coaching days and to visit his son Ryan, a Wizards assistant coach.
A.J. Price is back in the arena where he played last season and hoped to return this season but the Wizards showed no such mutual inclination.
Also here is Wolves GM Milt Newton, a Wizards' executive until Flip hired him away last summer.
Wizards coach Randy Wittman is coaching against the team he once coached both as an assistant and as head coach and chatted with old friend Flip earlier today.
And Kevin Love is playing against the first guy who ever coached him in the NBA, an experience that Love didn't feel too fondly about when Wittman coached him starting in 2008.
Asked if he still hears Wittman yelling "No!" at him now when he shoots threes, Love before tonight's game said, "I'm past that now. That was a long time ago."
Greetings from Target Center. Here are a few items before the Wolves and the Celtics tip off:
--Wolves center Nikola Pekovic is good to go tonight. Pekovic got his foot stepped on last night in Denver, and he was pretty sore after the game. But, foot wrapped, he said he was OK to play.
--Boston coach Brad Stevens is starting Brazilian rookie Vitor Faverani in place of Kelly Olynyk because of the Wolves’ sizable frontcourt.
--Chase Budinger is back. Not back playing, just back. Budinger, who has been rehabbing his surgically-repaired knee in Florida, is back in Minnesota. He was walking around greeting his teammates prior to tonight’s game. He’s not ready to do much more than continue rehabbing, but he’s with the team again.
--This is the Wolves’ fifth game in seven nights. The team will be lucky enough to do the same next week, against the likes of the Clippers, Houston and Indiana. Adelman sounds like a coach getting pretty tired of the intense November the league handed his team; the Wolves will have played 18 games by the end of November. The Wolves don’t play again after tonight until Tuesday, their first two-day stretch without a game since the season started.
That’s about it for now. I’ll get back to you after the game.
Kevin Martin is back feeling better and is expected to start tonight against the Nuggets in Denver in an early 7 p.m. Twin Cities start time.
If you're used to 8 p.m. starts from Denver and Utah, this one's an hour earlier because it's in the early time slot for ESPN's Friday night doubleheader.
Shabazz Muhammad won't play tonight -- what are the odds he would have anyway? -- because of a twisted ankle sustained in the fouth quarter of Wednesday's blowout win over Cleveland.
He was dressing back out of his warmups into a shirt and tie 45 minutes before tonight's game and won't be in uniform.
Tonight's game is the fourth in a stretch where the Wolves played five games in seven nights. They finally have two consecutive days off between Saturday's home game against Boston and Tuesday's game at Washington.
Just in case you haven't seen it, Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love a year ago filmed a spot for ESPN's NBA coverage that just began airing on Friday. It takes place in the famous ESPN NBA recreational vehicle.
Productive Wolves shooting guard Kevin Martin will miss tonight's game against Cleveland at Target Center with flu-like symptoms.
Wolves coach Rick Adelman inserted Robbie Hummel into Martin's spot in the starting lineup, giving the rookie his first NBA start.
Martin had scored 20 or more points in seven of the team's eight games, with three 30-point games in that mix. He had scored his 10,000th career point Monday against the L.A. Clippers.
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