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.
Kevin Love will defend his All-Star Saturday three-point championship next week in New Orleans.
Well, a year late, he will.
Love won the contest in 2012, but did not participate last season because of that hand he broke twice.
The NBA announced on tonight's TNT doubleheader pre-game show that he'll be back after a year away.
Provided, of course, that his stiff neck and the rest of him recovers by then.
He will compete against Cleveland's Kyrie Irving, Washington's Bradley Beal, Brooklyn's Joe Johnson, Orlando's Arron Afflalo, Golden State's Steph Curry, San Antonio's Marco Belinelli and Portland's Damian Lillard.
Love missed Wednesday's game at Oklahoma City when he deemed his neck too stiff to play after he fell hard in Tuesday's home victory over the Lakers and his head whipped back violently in the fall.
Love survived a first-round tiebreaker with Miami's Mario Chalmers in Orlando two years ago and advanced, eventually beating Kevin Durant in the finals.
Kevin Love will not play tonight in Oklahoma City because of a stiff neck sustained in that nasty fall last night against the Lakers.
Corey Brewer did not accompany the Wolves to Oklahoma City and he also won't play, so Rick Adelman will start Luc Mbah a Moute, Ronny Turiaf and Dante Cunningham as his frontline..
Love didn't come out of the trainer's room before the game and continued to get treatment on a battered body right up until the Wolves hold their usual team meeting about 40 minutes before game time.
"He's pretty sore today, so we'll see," Rick Adelman said 90 minutes before game time.
About 20 minutes before opening tip came word that Love won't play.
With Brewer also unavailable, Luc Mban a Moute will start against Kevin Durant at small forward.
"We'll have to put Luc on him and go from there," Adelman said. "Other people will have to step up."
Love took a nasty fall late in Tuesday's victory over the L.A. Lakers at Target Center and from replays it looked like Love hit his head on the court after landing hard on his hip and back.
But Adelman said Love didn't hit his head, only sustained a sore neck from whiplash.
"It looked pretty bad," Adelman said. "He was lucky he didn't hit his head. I don't know how he stopped himself."
Rookie center Gorgui Dieng said he's fine to play tonight after he was elbowed in the cheekbone and staggered to the locker room disoriented with the help of his teammates.
Brewer didn't travel to OKC so he can be with his son Sebastian, who was born on Tuesday hours before Brewer played against the Lakers.
He is expected to join the team in New Orleans for Friday's game against the Pelicans in a late 8:30 p.m. ESPN start.
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.
The first time Memphis coach Dave Joerger remembers attending a game at Target Center, Kenny Smith was playing point guard for Houston.
Yes, it was that long ago.
Tonight, it's all new again for the guy who grew up not all that far from Target Center, out in Staples, Minn.
It's the first time he'll come into Target Center as a NBA head coach with a Grizzlies team that has won nine of its last 10 games now that center Marc Gasol is back healthy.
Joerger knocked around basketball's minor leagues -- from Fargo to Sioux Falls to Bismarck -- for years, washing uniforms by day and coaching by night before making it to the NBA as a Memphis assistant in 2007.
Last summer, he was promoted to head coach after the team and Lionel Hollins parted ways.
"It's very exciting, very humbling," he said after shootaround this morning. "Certainly a dream come true to be able to coach here. I remember coming to games here, just the biggest deal in the world."
He is bringing his high-school coach here to the game, just like his coach brought him here to see the Wolves and Kenny Smith's Rockets.
"They messed up our tickets and we sat in a suite that night," he said. "A little high-school team thinking, `Holy cow, we're in a suite. What's going on?' "
He has lots of family and friends coming to tonight's game.
"Lots of requests," he said. "I gave everybody my brother's phone number and let them call him. It's exciting. A lot of people had a part in this. So many people had an influence on me growing up. So many people in this state and in my hometown that mentored and helped me. So it's not me out there. It's all of Staples and a lot of Minnesota. It's really cool."
An MRI on Wolves center Nikola Pekovic's right ankle revealed bursitis, according to a release sent out by the team today.Pekovic will be sidelined from basketball activities for seven to 10 days, after which he will be re-evaluated.
Pekovic had been fighting ankle pain -- it was believed to be Achilles tendon-related -- for days leading up to Monday's game at Chicago. Pekovic started the game, but left mid-way through the first quarter when the pain became to much to play.
With a window of seven to 10 days, even the most optimistic outcome of treatment would mean Pekovic will miss at least three games. The Wolves host New Orleans on Wednesday and Memphis on Friday before playing at Atlanta Saturday. The Wolves then play four games in five nights starting Feb. 4.
Ronny Turiaf played well Monday, scoring 14 points with seven rebounds. Rookie Gorgui Dieng also figures to see significant minutes while Pekovic is healing.
Pekovic appeared in each of the Wolves' first 44 games, averaging career highs in points (18.0), rebounds (9.1) and minutes (32.5).
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