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.
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.
The Wolves' issues with their second unit just got more complicated: Derrick Williams will not play tonight against Dallas at Target Center because of back spasms.
Williams' absence takes away scoring from a second unit that already is struggling in that area. Backup center Ronny Turiaf is out injured, shooting guard Alexey Shved hasn't played well at all so far and other teams are hounding J.J. Barea because he's the best -- and maybe now only real -- scoring option for the reserves.
Let's see if tonight is the night you finally get a good look at Robbie Hummel or Shabazz Muhammad in something more than clean-up time.
Ricky Rubio arrives at Madison Square Garden a starter and feeling fine tonight for the first time in his three NBA seasons.
The Wolves didn't play there during his rookie season, when the NBA lockout shortened the season to 66 games and created an uneven schedule.
Last season, he was just in his first week back from knee surgery when the Wolves visited just before Christmas.
Kevin Love missed that game, too.
Now both are back and presumably ready."Last year I wasn't myself, coming back from an injury, four or five games in," Rubio said. "I was feeling good but my knee wasn't ready. Now I feel pretty good."
The Wolves are playing without injured backup center Ronny Turiaf, who broke his elbow Friday night against Oklahoma City. Rookie Gorgui Dieng will get most of his minutes tonight.
Knicks star Amare Stoudemire won't play in his measured return from injury and J.R. Smith still is serving a season-opening league suspension.
The Wolves are going for their just the second 3-0 start in team history. The only other Wolves team to do so was the 2001-02 team that started 6-0.
An MRI performed Saturday morning revealed a radial head fracture in backup center Ronny Turiaf’s right elbow. Turiaf will be re-evaluated next week to determine an approximate timetable for his return.
Turiaf was injured at the 10:17 mark of the second quarter of Friday's victory over Oklahame City when, off-balance, he crashed to the floor.
The good news is that surgery will not be needed. But Turiaf is likely out at least a few weeks.
And that will force Wolves coach Rick Adelman to shuffle some things in his rotation.
“Obviously G will get his chance,” Adelman said of rookie center Gorgui Dieng, who was drafted by the Wolves with the 21st overall pick in the 2013 draft.
The post position, which looked so deep just a few days ago, is less so now. Turiaf, a vocal leader, was a valuable defender off the bench at the center position.
Now Adelman will have to use Dieng to back up starter Nikola Pekovic. Adelman said he will also slide Kevin Love into the five position more often as well, though he wants to avoid doing it too much.
“We don’t want to do that as a consistent thing,” Adelman said. “I like doing it at the end of games, because it forces (the opponent’s) hand. Plus, you don’t want him playing against guys who are going to attack him in the post. It’s not his strong suit. … Hopefully Pak and G can do it. G was a little nervous (Friday) night. But he’s played and he’s done a decent job. I think the more he plays the better he’ll be.’’
Dieng got his first action of the regular season in the Wolves’ one-sided victory Friday. He played 14½ minutes. He missed the only shot he took, was 0-for-4 from the free throw line and committed four fouls.
Adelman can also use Dante Cunningham in spots against teams fielding small lineups.
The Wolves conclude their seven-game preseason schedule tonight at Detroit, with the second half of back-to-back that this time features a formidable, remade Pistons frontline.
Ninety minutes before tonight's game, Rick Adelman still hadn't decided who would start at small forward. He said he was waiting partly to see who the Pistons -- who signed free-agent Josh Smith last summer to put alongside youngster Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond -- started up front.
Ultimately, Adelman started veteran Dante Cunningham after also considering starting Derrick Williams, Shabazz Muhammad or putting Robbie Hummel back there after Hummel started and played 30-plus minutes Monday in Philadelphia.
Ronny Turiaf also started at center in place of Nikola Pekovic, who didn't come out for warmups because of a quad contusion sustained in Philadelphia.
It's just a precaution with the season opener just six days away, I'm told.
Adelman brought Corey Brewer off the bench again, although he said before Thursday's game he has not ruled out Brewer as his starter when the regular season arrives Wednesday against Orlando.
Adelman likes Brewer's energy off the bench, but...
"I really liked him last year with what Denver did and he does give you a lot of energy off the bench," Adelman said.
The difference is the Nuggets started defensive-minded Andre Iguodala against the opponent's best wing player.
The Wolves don't have any other real defensive options at starting small forward other than Brewer.
"Could go either way with it," Adelman said about Brewer's role. "It's something we'll talk about next five days and figure out what's best for the team."
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