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.

Another close loss, more signs of growth

Posted by: Kent Youngblood under Wolves postgame Updated: March 2, 2015 - 11:20 PM

Greetings for a final time from Target Center.

I’m not a big one for moral victories, but this might meet the cut. The Wolves, hampered again by injury, started slow, but fought back and played a very entertaining game, staying in the contest in an ice-cold fourth quarter that saw them hit just one of 14 field goal attempts. That’s only happened three times in franchise history.

Afterward both coach Flip Saunders and Kevin Garnett praised the play of the young players on a night when rookies Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine and Adreian Payne all scored in double figures.

Here are some final thoughts on the game:

--The Wolves keep pushing LaVine to attack the basket, and he did more of that tonight. Part of that was being able to play the off-guard spot, and often being on the floor with Ricky Rubio. He really got out on the break tonight, had two impressive dunks and finished with 14 points on 5-for-9 shooting.

--It was a wonderful game for Rubio, who hit 5 of 11 shots, 11 of 12 free throws. He got his fourth career triple double with 18 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists. He has had at least a points-assist double-double in three straight games, the longest such streak in his career.

--Gary Neal’s 19 points was his best in a Wolves uniform.

--Two things on Gorgui Dieng: First, he keeps working very hard, and keeps racking up double-doubles. He had his 15th of the season tonight. But, second, he has a lot of muscle to add before he can bang with the likes of DeAndre Jordan.

--If I told someone who hadn’t watched the game that the Wolves had made just one fourth-quarter field goal, then asked them to guess who hit it do you think anyone would guess Chase Budinger?

--Garnett had 12 points, his first time in double figures since returning to the Wolves.

That’s about it for now. Have a great night. 

No Pekovic, Martin for Wolves tonight against Clippers

Posted by: Kent Youngblood under Wolves pre-game Updated: March 2, 2015 - 6:25 PM

Greetings from Target Center.

Well, the tip off with the Clippers is about 45 minutes away, but the game will commence without Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Martin.

Pekovic’s sore foot/ankle will keep him out of tonight’s game. The condition, which has been with Pek for a while – and has frustrated him to no end – flared up after he played about 34 minutes per game over a five-game stretch. Finally, Saturday, it flared up to the point where Pekovic only place a few moments into the second half, then sat.

Saunders said the team will let him rest, hoping he can return Wednesday. When and if he does return, Pekovic will have to be on a rather strict minutes limit. Gorgui Dieng will start in Pek’s place.

Meanwhile, Martin is home with the flu, a sickness that is making its way through the team. Gary Neal will start in his place.

That’s about it for now. I’ll get back to you after the game.

Pekovic, Martin questionable for tonight

Posted by: Kent Youngblood under Wolves injury report, Wolves players Updated: March 2, 2015 - 12:42 PM

It was a very frustrated Nikola Pekovic who – after watching but not participating in the Wolves’ morning shoot – talked about that sore right foot/ankle that could keep him out of tonight’s game.

Still sore, Pekovic said he would decide on his availability for the game after trying to warm up pre-game.

“We’ll see,” he said.

But, one way or another, this injury – something that has been bothering Pekovic for a long time -- is going to impact the rest of this season, at least. It could be that the stretch run this year will be much like last season’s, when the soreness caused Pekovic to miss 28 of the final 38 games. Even if he’s able to manage the pain and return, Pekovic said that some sort of minutes limit will have to be enforced by coach Flip Saunders.

“I’m going to have to go back on that [minutes limit],” he said. “I’m not really happy with that. But if that’s going to be help me get through the season, probably Flip’s going to do it.’’

That said, Pekovic sounded like a man fed up with the process. All it took was a simple question: How frustrated are you? “A lot, a lot, a lot, a lot,” he said. “It’s been a long, long, long, long time. A year.  I’ve almost been a year dealing with this. It’s going up and down. It was better during the summer. When you kind of rest it, it’s always better. But you start working….

“It’s kind of tough, mentally, to have to go through all this. You want to play, but it just doesn’t let you. Your foot doesn’t let you go. … It’s just tough dealing with this every day.’’

Pekovic has tried stretching. He has tried modifying his warm-up routing. He said today that he has taken shots for the inflammation. After the season he said he will seek more opinions from specialists on how to deal with this ongoing problem. “Right after the season is done, I’ll try to figure out what to do,” he said.

Here are some other notes from this morning:

--Shooting guard Kevin Martin missed the shootaround due to illness, and he is listed as questionable for tonight’s game with the Clippers.

--Those 1,000 tickets Kevin Garnett bought for fans were scooped up in about 3 minutes this morning. It was, Garnett said, the least he could do. “Just a way of showing my appreciation,” Garnett said. “I’m always looking to be innovative, try things from an original standpoint. I’m excited to be back here. And, though I can’t thank everybody, in appreciation I liked to show some type of gesture. And this is the way I chose to show it.’’

--But on the subject of his two technical and his ejection from Saturday’s loss to Memphis Garnett was less loquacious. “That’s over with,” he said. “I’m not speaking on that.”

That’s about all for now. I’ll get back to you before the game. 

Garnett will not play tonight vs. Bulls

Posted by: Jerry Zgoda under Wolves injury report, Wolves pre-game, Wolves news Updated: February 27, 2015 - 6:20 PM

Kevin Garnett is out tonight in Chicago on the first night of back-to-back games.

There's is an asterisk, though: He will be active and in uniform so...

"You never know with him," coach Flip Saunders said before tonight's game.

Saunders said there are a couple reasons:

1. The team is committed to playing its young players and he considers a Friday night at United Center in Chicago a good experience for them to feel a big-game atmosphere, even if Bulls star Derrick Rose (knee surgery) and Pau Gasol (ill) won't play.

2. They don't want to tax Garnett's body by playing him on consecutive nights. He'll play at home Saturday against Memphis instead.

Adreian Payne will start at power forward instead.

One thing:

Center Nikola Pekovic said tonight that pain in that ankle is worse and he didn't go out for warmups tonight just so he wouldn't put any undo wear on it.

Saunders said it hasn't gotten to the point yet where they've considered holding him out of back-to-back as well, though.

Garnett uncertain if he'll play tonight vs. Bulls

Posted by: Jerry Zgoda under Wolves injury report, Wolves pre-game, Wolves news Updated: February 27, 2015 - 11:54 AM

Flip Saunders says it will be up to Kevin Garnett to decide if he can play games on consecutive nights the rest of the season. Today it appears he's still listening to his body.

Garnett was uncertain at the morning shootaround in Chicago if he'll play against the Bulls tonight.

If you have tickets for Saturday's home game against Memphis, worry not.

"My thing is just being productive," he said. "All year, I've been having issues with back-to-backs. I've tried to practice as much as I can. I want to be productive. The situation, I haven't done most back to backs. This year, I told 'em, we'll see how it goes, be patient with me with that and I don't see that probably changing or nothing."

Asked if he'll play tonight, he said, "We'll see, we'll see. If not tonight, definitely tomorrow. The thing is here is the long haul and the bigger picture here and trying to be productive."

If he does play, he'll face Bulls big man Joakim Noah. The two have a long, competitive history together, most recently in a November game when Garnett looked like he was going to chomp on Noah's fingers as the two pushed for position.

“I know how to bite somebody,” Garnett told reporters that night with a laugh. “Obviously I was messing around in that moment. If I wanted to bite him, I’d have just … shout out to Mike Tyson.”

Chicago reporters this morning tried to get Noah to join in on the feel-good story that is Garnett returning home to the franchise where he played his first 12 seasons.

Like Garnett pretended to bite him, Noah pretended to be touched by it all.

Asked if he didn't think it was a "cool" storyline, Noah answered, "So cool, man. Unbelievable, great story. Puts butterflies in my stomach."

Garnett's return is nothing but an afterthought here in Chicago, where the big news today is that Derrick Rose had another knee surgery this morning but walked out of it on his own and could return in four to six weeks, before the end of the regular season.

Garnett expounded when asked about Rose's third knee surgery in the last few years.

"Oh, man, the D-Rose situation is very unfortunate, man, that type of injury. He's young, such a promising future and a lot of hopes for him. It's just sad to see him have to go through injuries, go through this tough part of his career. I'm just hoping he makes the best decision for himself. Not just for himself, but his family. I know he has kids and a family that loves him and I want him to think about that before basketball.

"Basketball is always going to be here for him. He can always pick a ball up and go hoop, but to walk around and be who you are and be free, run around with your kids and be yourself is more important. I always say the game of life is bigger than the game of basketball, so D-Rose take care of yourself, man, and do what's best for you.

"The hell with what they're talking about. Do what's best for you and your family and take care of yourself. God bless."

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