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.
The day after a very disappointing loss to the Knicks, the Wolves spent a lot of time looking a film. This is what they saw:
“We defended very poorly,” coach Rick Adelman said.
“Our pick and roll defense was pretty bad,” Corey Brewer said.
Then the Wolves spent a rather long practice trying to change that. With games dwindling and playoff prospects dimming, the Wolves cannot afford a replay of the effort they showed against the Knicks Wednesday.
Tomorrow the Wolves get Detroit, another Eastern Conference team that is struggling, having lost eight of their last 10 games. But fans know what that’s worth; the Knicks came into Wednesday’s game having lost seven straight.
“We’re better than our record,” Brewer said. “We’ve lost a lot of close games. We felt like we were starting to play well, but last night was a tough loss to take. Especially coming off a good road trip.”
A couple items from today’s practice:
--Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio, who both stayed long after practice to work on their shots, were the last two players off the court today.
--Center Nikola Pekovic continues to feel pain in his ankle. He can play through it, he says, but the team is going to have to continue to watch his minutes for the foreseeable future.
“It’s hard to explain,” he said. “When I’m running, jumping, I have pain,” he said. “But when I finish I don’t have pain.’’
That’s about it for now. Jerry will be with the team tomorrow.
Greetings from Target Center for the last time tonight.
I find it rather difficult to understand how the Wolves could come out so flat with so much at stake. Guess that first home game after a long road trip is a tough one.
This one hurt. Especially with Memphis and Dallas both losing tonight. Especially after the Wolves had rebounded from a poor start to get within two points heading into the fourth quarter.
Here are some final thoughts on the game:
--Once again some poor offensive execution from the Wolves bench contributed to the loss. The Knicks opened the fourth quarter on a 15-2 run and the rest is history.
--The one bright spot on the night was Shabazz Muhammad’s 10 points on 5-for-5 shooting. He also had three rebounds and a steal. But don’t get too excited. He also had four turnovers and his defense wasn’t stellar.
--The Wolves very much need Chase Budinger to start hitting open shots. He was 3-for-10 tonight, 1-for-5 on three-pointers.
--J.J. Barea had another tough night, going 1-for-9.
--Nobody on the Wolves roster could slow Carmelo Anthony tonight. Not Corey Brewer, not Luc Mbah a Moute. Nobody.
--When was the last time Kevin Love went an entire half without a field goal? He had only one point in the second half Wednesday.
That’s about it for tonight. I’ll get back to you after Thursday’s practice.
Greetings again from Target Center. We’re just a few moments away from tipoff of the Wolves-Knicks game, and here is a quick update:
Despite an off-the-charts month of February in which he averaged 34 points and 14.1 rebounds per game, Kevin Love was not named the Western Conference player of the month. The award, announced just now, went to Clippers forward Blake Griffin, who averaged 30.0 points and 10.7 rebounds in 11 games in February.
The biggest difference? Griffin and the Clippers went 7-4 February games while the Wolves – though hot late – won just five of 11 games in February.
--The Knicks will continue with a starting lineup that includes Amar’e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler, hoping to counter the Wolves one-two punch of Nikola Pekovic and Love.
--The Wolves, as usual, are going with a starting five of Love, Pekovic, Ricky Rubio, Kevin Martin and Corey Brewer
Greetings from Target Center.
With the Wolves back in town after a long road swing, and with the New York media in town with the Knicks, the crowd of media at this mornings Wolves shootaround was, as expected, immense.
Also as expected, much of the questions surrounded Kevin Love’s big month of February.
In particular, Love was asked, more than once, whether his wonderful February was the best month of his professional career.
“More than anything it was opportunity,” Love said. “A lot of guys have stepped up, not just myself. The fact that [Nikola Pekovic] and [Kevin Martin] were out, I had to do all that I could just to keep us kind of in the fight. So, yeah, I had a good February. I fought as hard as I could. Having those guys back makes us a better team. But, like I said, opportunity knocked for a lot of these guys and they were up to the challenge.”
We’ll know tonight just before game time whether that big month – one in which he averaged 34 points, 14.1 rebounds and three made three pointers per game – was enough to win him Western Conference player of the month honors. That will be announced tonight just before the 7 p.m. start.
“February was probably, statistically, my best month,” Love said. “But hopefully this month, as far as the team goes, will be a better record. I just tried to do all I could to make sure we could win games. I think a lot of other guys did, too. I’ve had great months of basketball, and that was right up there with one of the best.”
Perhaps surprisingly, there were not a lot of questions regarding Love’s future, a topic that has been hot all season. Love, of course, can opt out of his contract after next season, and speculation is already rampant on what will happen.
The Knicks are in a similar situation with forward Carmelo Anthony. The league’s second-leading scorer, Anthony can opt out of his contract after this season.
The one question Love was asked was whether contract speculation can become a distraction. “Yeah, but Carmelo is a pro,” Love said. “I think he’s probably not worried about it. I’m not worried about it. We just think more than anything, we want to get a win tonight. I don’t think it’s a distraction.”
Here are some other items from this morning:
--Ricky Rubio on the team’s current streak: “We just worry about [the] next game,” he said. “And that’s what we have been doing the last couple weeks. Maybe in the beginning of the season we’re looking too much to the future, and we weren’t focusing on what’s next. Now we have New York here at home. We just have to play good and try to win the next one.”
--Rubio on playing with Love in February: “Unbelievable,” he said. “He makes my job so easy. I never thought a player could play as good as he is doing and control everything – not just scoring and rebounding, assisting and defending much better.
--Rookie Shabazz Muhammad on his recent increase in playing time: “I’ve been playing and we’ve been winning, so I think that is something that is great,” he said. “I think all of us have a part in that. I’m just here and I want to win and make the playoffs. We’re making a pretty good run here.”
The Denver Nuggets went 1-8 without star guard Ty Lawson in the lineup for most of February, but he's coming back from a fractured rib just in time for tonight's game in Denver against a Wolves team looking to end its longest road trip of the season 4-1.
Lawson will start for the Nuggets and he told coach Brian Shaw he's ready to play all 48 minutes, which, of course, he won't do.
Shaw said he expects Lawson to be a "little rusty" but added the response of Lawson's teammates at Monday's shootaround is an indication that whatever Lawson can give will be good.
"Everybody was in a good mood because of that," he said, referring to Lawson's return. "When you add that element of speed, he makes everything easier for everybody else."
Wolves coach Rick Adelman called the Nuggets a "totally different team" with their most explosive player back.
"He's the guy who gets their engine going," Adelman said. "The first two times they had him, we lost. We have to find ways to control him."
The Wolves lost to the Nuggets twice in November when Lawson played and thumped Denver at home last month during that nine-game stretch when he was out injured.
Both Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Martin said before tonight's game that they came through Saturday's return at Sacramento feeling fine physically.
: it’s a totally different team, he’s the guy who gets their engine going, they’ve got five in a row and 1-8 woithout him, so he’s back, all those athletes they have, he delviers the ball and gets them going, so its first two times they had him, we lost, we have to find ways to cpnotrol him
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