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.
Greeting from Target Center for the final time tonight.
I just got through writing my game story off this 113-101 loss. It was, as you’d expect, Andrew Wiggins-heavy.
What a night he had. He got more aggressive and more efficient as the night went on. The Wolves were determined to get him going, calling more plays for him, probably, than any game this season. And he responded. He had 29 points, 20 in the second half, 11 in the fourth quarter.
It was the highest-scoring game by an NBA rookie this season.
Here are some other thoughts on tonight’s game:
--Gorgui Dieng was the worse for wear tonight after playing against DeMarcus Cousins. But the kid is game. Dieng had a double-double of his own and four of his 10 rebounds were on the offensive end. He also had two blocks.
--This was likely Chase Budinger’s best game of the season. He scored 11 points on 3-for-6 shooting and made both of his three-pointers.
--As I’ve said many times before, I love the energy Corey Brewer brings. It’s not always pretty, but he plays hard all the time. He had 14 points, four assists and a steal tonight. And he also had a very nice moment. In the final minute of a game already decided, Brewer made a steal. He had a free run for a basket of his own, but he instead fed Wiggins for a dunk, the rookie’s final basket of the night.
--The Wolves were whistled for two technical fouls tonight. Flip Saunders got one and Brewer got one. The Wolves felt they weren’t getting calls tonight. After the game Saunders said he felt Wiggins deserved more calls than he got. “I guess our guys have to start complaining a little bit more,” Saunders said. “Except, maybe, for me and Corey. We didn’t get many calls.”
That’s about it for now. The Wolves will not practice again until Monday. Have a good rest of your weekend.
Greetings from Target Center, where the Wolves and Kings are getting close to tip-off.
Again, it won’t be an easy task for the undermanned Wolves, who will start their eighth different starting lineup in 12 games.
Tonight’s five: Andrew Wiggins, Mo Williams, Corey Brewer, Gorgui Dieng and Anthony Bennett, who is coming off a career-high 20 points Friday.
Dieng figures to be the main man trying to slow down Kings star DeMarcus Cousins. Before the game Wolves coach Flip Saunders was asked the key to the matchup for Dieng.
“Survival,” Saunders said.
But here is what Saunders thinks is the biggest challenge tonight: “The toughest thing for us is that [the Kings] lead the league in free throw attempts, and they shoot them well,” he said. “We can’t afford to foul, for one.But the problem is when you try to play without fouling the other team has the aggression and they’ll probably get some easy buckets. We do need reinforcements.”
They won’t come tonight. Thaddeus Young is expected back at practice Monday – the Wolves will not practice Sunday – so that’s a plus. But Nikola Pekovic (wrist and ankle), Kevin Martin (wrist) and Ricky Rubio (ankle) are a good ways off.
In other news:
--Saunders said Wolves general manager Milt Newton represented the team at the funeral for Young’s mother, which was Friday.
--Saunders is looking to see whether Bennett – who had a career-high 20 points Friday – can string together a number of good games. “Can he bounce off that?” Saunders said. “The game before Shabazz [Muhammad] played better, and he didn’t get a bounce off of that.’’
That’s about it for now. I’ll get back to you after the game.
The hits just keep coming for the Timberwolves: An MRI taken today shows starting shooting guard Kevin Martin fractured his wrist in Wednesday's victory over New York.
He is listed as out indefinitely and will be re-evaliated in the coming days to determine whether he'll need surgery.
The team said he broke his right wrist midway through Wednesday's first quarter.
That's his shooting wrist, of course.
You might recall he went on to score a season-high 37 points that night.
Surgery likely is the fastest way to get him back on the court, perhaps in four to six weeks
Add him to the list of injured that also includes Nikola Pekovic, Ricky Rubio and Ronny Turiaf. Forward Thad Young is out for tonight's game against San Antonio at Target Center as well.
A little bit of history here:
Martin broke the other wrist -- his left, non-shooting one -- in November 2009 and did so the same night he scored 48 points and then went out and scored 29 the next.
He had surgery then and missed the next two-plus months.
Greetings from Target Center where, after a relatively brief Wolves practice, Ricky Rubio – still on crutches – talked with the media for the first time since severely spraining his ankle No. 7 in Orlando.
In true Rubio style, over the course of the 12-minute gathering, he remained mostly upbeat about his situation. Yes, it’s been tough, he said. Especially considering how well he was playing just before his injury. “I was feeling good,” he said. “I think the best I’ve felt in the NBA. Especially the game in Brooklyn (when he had 14 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds). I was feeling like I’d found my tempo. I was leading the team.”
But, Rubio said, it doesn’t do anyone any good to dwell on the past. “It is what it is,” he said. “We can’t look back and take the injury back. So we just have to deal with it. It’s been almost two weeks, so just getting to rehab every day, twice, three times every day. And trying to come back as soon as possible to help the team.”
When will that be? Nobody knows for sure, but Rubio hopes by Christmas.
As usual, Rubio was good for a few laughs. He joked about whether he should have taking the jumper rather than drive to the hoop when he was hurt. When asked about what he was doing with his extra time, he said he was reading books. And, though he’s not a huge fan, he’s been playing video games, including NBA 2K. “I play with myself and score 40 points and I feel like I’m playing again,” he joked.
But he’s just trying to stay positive and do what he can to help the team. And that part of it has changed, too. Rubio thinks of himself as a leader by example. But now he’s not playing, so being a mentor is more difficult. “I have to be more vocal,” he said. “My English is improving, so I can talk to [his young teammates] more often and they understand me finally. I just try to talk with them, see what I see, encourage them. Because they’re young.’’
So the big question, of course, is when he might return. Rubio, who has never dealt with a badly sprained ankle before, said he doesn’t know. He did say his family was visiting from Spain at Christmas and he hopes they’ll be able to watch him play. But there are no guarantees. “I don’t know the time,” he said. “It’s going to depend, everybody’s different. As the doctor, and if he answers that question tell me.”
Until then he will do what he can by watching, observing and talking to his teammates. He said Wednesday’s win was definitely an elixir for him; he said he almost retwisted his ankle jumping up to cheer for Shabazz Muhammad on his alley-oop dunk from Corey Brewer.
“I’ll push hard,” he said about his rehab. “But there are limits.’’
Rubio said he was told he could put some weight on the ankle a few days ago. But, after spending time walking around his house without his crutches his foot swelled up again. So the key is, he said, to take things at the right pace.
“ Because if you push too hard sometimes it’s bad,” he said. “So I always want to go fast, but at the same time I want to make sure that the steps I’m taking forward are the right steps. And, first of all, I want to make sure that my ankle is safe and I can play again.’’
Well, it's come to this: Flip Saunders added to his team's list of potentially injured or ill missing before tonight's game against New York and revealed that both Corey Brewer and Kevin Martin each had IVs this afternoon after they fell ill.
One reporter responded by laughing.
"You think it's really funny, don't you?" Saunders responded wryly. "I have a sportcoat in there, it's a blue one with a blue tie."
Flip could use all the help he can get.
Ricky Rubio, Nikola Pekovic, Thad Young, Ronny Turiaf are all out tonight and Brewer and Martin are expected to try to play despite not feeling well.
Even assistant coach David Adelman is out.
Saunders said he will search the Target Center corridors for tall guys and would activate Calvin Booth if he could.
He can't, so he's modifying his starting lineup by putting veteran Mo Williams alongside Martin in the backcourt while giving Shabazz Muhammad his first NBA career start in Young's power-forward spot alongside Andrew Wiggins and Gorgui Dieng up front.
Dieng is the only healthy center, Anthony Bennett and Robbie Hummel are the only other big men available.
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