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.
Guess you can include Ricky Rubio among the list of players whose method of busting out of slumps is to keep shooting.
Rubio entered Saturday’s game with Phoenix at Target Center having shot 10-for-48 in his last five games, Rubio came out and took a career-high 18 shots. He made eight of them. That plus a 7-for-7 performance from the free throw line gave him a career-high 24 points in the Wolves’ 12-point victory.
“It’s a lot,” Rubio said of his shots. “But without (Kevin) Love and (Nikola Pekovic), there are a lot of shots to take, and I’m going to take them.”
Rubio knows how to end a slump in style. His 24-point, 10-assist, five-steal, five-rebound performance gave him his seventh 4x5 game of the season, tying him with LeBron James (2004-05) and Chris Paul (2008-09) for the most in a single season over the last 15 years.
More? It was Rubio’s 13th double-double of the season and his 15th game with 10 or more assists.
More? Rubio became the fourth player this year and just the third in Wolves history to college 20 or more points, 10 or more assists, and five or more steals and rebounds in a game. The others who have done it this season? Rajon Rondo, Chris Paul, Monta Ellis (twice).
Here are some other thoughts on the game:
--When J.J. Barea is on, he can be one pesky little player. He scored 16 points – nine in the second half – on 7-for-9 shooting, and it was his five points at the start of the fourth quarter that helped give the Wolves a comfortable lead.
--Once again Derrick Williams was rewarded with strong play by sitting on the bench. He scored eight points and had four rebounds in 10 minutes of play in the third quarter – he and Luke Ridnour helped push the Wolves out of their lethargy – but he didn’t play a minute in the fourth quarter.
--Talk about a second-half turnaround. Barea said coach Rick Adelman had some strong halftime words. The Wolves responded by out-scoring Phoenix 55-40 in the second half, out-rebounding the Suns 21-10 and forcing 14 Suns turnovers in the second half.
--All five Wolves starters were in double figures, and those five players shot 30-for-59.
--The Wolves tied a franchise high with 17 steals and six of the nine Wolves players who saw action had at least two. Williams had four.
That’s about all for now. Jerry will be covering Monday’s game.
Rick Adelman's wife and son wiped away tears in the moments after the Timberwolves' 107-101 victory over Detroit placed their coach in that exclusive club of now only eight men who have won 1000 NBA games.
Adelman got hugs and congratulations from his players when they finally got him to that threshold, just 24 hours after the same opportunity slipped away with a home loss to Toronto.
This time, the Wolves took an 11-point, first-half lead and hung on all the way to the end, even though the Pistons got back to even and create many nervous moments in the game's final minutes.
Adelman wrapped an arm around his wife Mary Kay as a video tribute played on the big overhead scoreboard and then he addressed the crowd in a special post-game interview with team play-by-play guy Dave Benz conducted on the court.
In the press room after that, Adelman talked at length about the evening's meaning, particularly the chance to do it at home with his wife in attendance.
Here's the game story from Saturday, with many of his comments.
There also should be video up by morning of his post-game presser.
A couple other quick things:
* Ricky Rubio had his left shoulder wrapped in ice after the game.
He hurt it in the third quarter after colliding with Brandon Knight and was in obvious pain.
Asked if it'll be all right, he said afterward, "I hope so."
Rubio missed his first 12 field-goal attempts, but made his final one, a crucial one in the final minute that helped keep the Pistons away.
He'll have a couple days to let his shoulder heal: Adelman gave his players Sunday AND Monday off before they fly Monday afternoon to San Francisco to begin a three-game Western trip.
* David Kahn consoled Alexey Shved at his locker after the game.
The rookie guard played less than four minutes Saturday after playing eight minutes against Toronto.
He obviously has struggled here down the stretch of a long NBA season that he's experiencing for the first time.
Let the Adelman talk commence.
Wednesday’s victory in Milwaukee gave the Wolves their first winning streak since Dec. 15 and gave coach Rick Adelman his 999th career NBA victory.
Friday’s game with Toronto will be the first crack at 1,000, something many of the players in the locker room were talking about.
“Everybody is thinking about it,” center Nikola Pekovic said. “And I know we’ll all be honored to be a part of that.”
J.J. Barea said the prospects looked good for getting Adelman his 1,000th this season, something that couldn’t be said a few weeks ago.
But the Wolves are starting to play very well. They won their third straight road game for the first time this season and have won five of their last eight overall.
Here are some impressions of tonight’s game:
--What makes Pekovic’s 27 points tonight so impressive is that he did it against Larry Sanders. Not that Sanders is an All Star. But he is the kind of long player that sometimes gives Pekovic problems. Pek was very, very good again tonight. He had eight points in the first quarter, seven in the second, eight in the third and four in the fourth. That is consistency.
--Ricky Rubio had never hit more than two three-pointers in a game before. Then, tonight, he hits his first five. Rubio is 9-for-14 from three-point range his last six games.
--This team is really playing unselfish basketball. The Wolves got a season-high 33 assists tonight, and every one of the 10 Wolves who played got at least one. Eight had multiple assists.
--The Wolves’ 61.5 shooting percentage on three-pointers (8-for-13) was a season high.
That’s about all for now. Have a good night.
The Wolves scored 30 points in the first quarter of their game with the Grizzlies at Target Center Saturday. They scored just 36 in the entire second half.
The result was the 11th straight loss to Memphis on a night when just about nobody besides Greg Stiemsma (yes, the Steamer) and Ricky Rubio and Alexey Shved could hit a shot.
I think playing for a seventh time in 10 nights finally took its toll for the Wolves, who have a day off before hosting Boston Monday.
Here are some thoughts on the game:
--Forward Chase Budinger said his entire body felt sore playing on the back end of a back to back. Budinger, who played in his seventh game since returning from knee surgery, was clearly leg weary tonight. He made just one of six shots.
--Forward Dante Cunningham said his hand -- which he banged up Friday against Oklahoma City -- isn't bothering him. but he was just 2-for-8 for four points, missing a slew of open jumpers against his old team.
--Stiemsma played very well stepping in for the injured Nikola Pekovic. He played a game-high 40 minutes, scored 12 points on 5-for-7 shooting, had seven rebounds and two blocks.
--Ricky Rubio came one assist short of his second career triple-double. And he continued his recent trend of shooting better, going 6-for-12 on the way to a team-high 23 points.
--After guarding Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant in consecutive games, Andrei Kirilenko didn't have much left in the legs department either. He scored five points in 28-plus minutes.
That's about all for now. Jerry will cover Monday's game against the Celtics.
Cynics might bemoan the lottery implications of what happened in Auburn Hills Tuesday night. But the Wolves weren’t worrying about that. Not at all. One player after another talked about how much fun the 105-82 victory had been.
Indeed, it was a rather funny sight walking into the locker room after the game. More than half the players were peering intently at the final box score, which showed the Wolves had hit a season-high 14 three-pointers and had defended the heck out of the hapless Pistons.
“It’s always fun when you win like this,” Andrei Kirilenko said.
Here are some stats and thoughts on what happened in the Palace Tuesday:
--The Wolves’ seven third-quarter three-pointers was one off the team club record of eight that came in the first quarter of the Wolves game at Portland March 3, 2012.
--Seven players hit at least one three-pointer.
--Jerry did a nice story this week on Luke Ridnour, the Wolves’ iron man. On a night when everybody was playing well, he stood out. Ridnour hit on six of seven shots – hitting two of three three-pointers – and had three assists and three steals in 25½ minutes of play.
--None of the Wolves starters played more than Ricky Rubio’s 27:28, with none of those starters playing a minute in the fourth quarter. Maybe they’ll have some legs left for Wednesday’s game against the Lakers in Target Center.
--The Wolves’ 38 third-quarter points was a season high.
--You just have to love Barea’s toughness. The game was already well out of hand when, in the fourth quarter, he put up an airball. Now, the Palace was so devoid of fans and fan noise that catcalls could be heard everywhere. So what few fans are there start an air-ball chant. And what does Barea do? He takes – and hits – two straight three-pointers, quieting the chant. Barea scored 21, with 14 coming in the fourth quarter on 5-for-7 shooting.
That’s about it for tonight. Jerry will be covering tomorrow’s game.
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