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 vs. Lakers, here we go: Wes Johnson starts at guard

Posted by: Jerry Zgoda under Wolves practice news, Wolves pre-game, Wolves news Updated: October 4, 2010 - 4:08 PM

It's tap time in London.

A bit of a surprise: Wes Johnson is starting at shooting guard alongside Luke Ridnour, with Beasley, Love and Darko up front.

Ron Artest, Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol, Derek Fisher and Kobe are starting for the Lakers.

Of course, Kobe is playing. His jersey is the top selling Europe.

It'll be interesting to watch Wes matched up agaisnt Kobe, who likely will play two eight-minute stretches in the first half.

Kobe and Love just addressed the big crowd at the O2 Arena right before tip off.

You can watch it live on NBA TV.

I'll be updating this post with observations and stuff and Tweeting away as the game progresses.

HALFTIME UPDATE

Some stuff from first half:

* Kobe played just first six minutes, was scoreless and looks like he's done for the night with that healing knee. Lakers lead 56-55 at the half.

* No question these Wolves are going to be much, more competitive. Longer, more athletic, shooters. Respectable first half considering these guys haven't played with each other much at all.

They're also going to be a LOT more fun to watch, especially as they grow and get to know each other better.

* Beasley's going to score, and from all over the floor, in this offense. He's also going to turn the ball over. He leads the Wolves with 11 on 4 for 6 shooting at the half.

* Love's game ain't pretty but he sure is effective. He works and works for rebound, threw another of those long outlet passes (to Brewer for a dunk), showed 3-point range and has 9 points, 7 rebounds, five assists (including a nice interior pass to Darko for a dunk) and a block in 16 minutes.

* Good thing the Wolves kept Kosta Koufos. They're going to need him: Pekovic scored five quick points in relief of Darko, but also got three fouls and sat down after only 2 1/2 minutes of play. The big tough guy looked pretty good but he's going to have to learn how to stay on the floor early here in his NBA career.

* I barely noticed Martell Webster in training camp scrimmage, but he asserted himself here in the first and had 10 quick points -- including a three -- in 12 minutes off the bench. Included was a nice drive down the lane and a hanging scoop shot he turned into a three-point play.

* Here's maybe the biggest surprise from the first half: Wayne Ellington was your backup point guard, replacing Luke Ridnour because Sebastian Telfair has a sore hamstring. Now, of course, this is temporary until Jonny Flynn returns, but still unusual and interesting to see. He looked a little uncertain handling the ball, but had a basket and no turnovers in nearly 9 minutes.

* Darko started slowly, but by halftime had eight points, three rebounds, four assists and a block. He doesn't need to be great or even really good. If he just rebounds, blocks a shot or 2 a game and moves the ball instead of it getting sucked into a black hole when it goes in to the center, he'll earn his money.

* Love and Darko have combined for nine of the team's 13 assists so far.

For those of you watching, what do you think so far?

 

 

 

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