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.

Posts about Wolves players

Ricky Rubio is hoping for an active Christmas

Posted by: Kent Youngblood Updated: November 20, 2014 - 2:51 PM

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.’’

Bennett, Hummel get an opportunity with Young gone

Posted by: Kent Youngblood Updated: November 14, 2014 - 1:36 PM

Friday morning Thaddeus Young wasn’t with the Wolves in New Orleans.  But he was on their minds, and in their prayers.

Young’s mother, Lulu Hall, died Thursday. Young had left the team to travel to Memphis, Tenn. To be with his mother, and was able to see her before she died. Young will remain with his family for the near future, which means he will miss tonight’s game against the Pelicans and Saturday’s game in Dallas at least.

“The last week she took a turn for the worst,” Wolves coach Flip Saunders said. “So we talked to him, told him that whenever he needed to go home he could go. Fortunately for him, he was able to get home and have a chance to talk to his mother before she passed away. Our sentiments go out to him and his family. He’s part of our family. She was part of our family. So it’s a sad day for everybody.”

Saunders said Hall had been sick for a while. “She had breast cancer a couple years ago,” he said. “I think it just reared its head.”

Young’s teammates said they would support him any way they could.

“I just sent him a text,” Corey Brewer said after the team’s morning shoot finished. “It’s tough. I know from when my dad passed. I can only imagine how he feels right now. I’m with him. I’m praying for him. All you can do is pray and be there if he needs anything.”

Said Zach LaVine: "We're all going to have a prayer for him."

Meanwhile, the Wolves to have to play a game tonight and figure out a way to at least slow down Pelicans power forward Anthony Davis. Saunders wouldn’t say who would start in Young’s place tonight – “You’ll have to wait until 7:05 tonight to find out,” he said --  but you have to figure that, no matter who starts, both Anthony Bennett and Robbie Hummel will get significant minutes tonight and Saturday.

Saunders also said you could see Gorgui Dieng and Nikola Pekovic on the floor together at times.

“It’s an opportunity,” Saunders. “Everybody has to step up. We don’t have Ricky (Rubio) or Thad, two of our most efficient guys. All of our fours are young guys. So it’s a good opportunity for them to play against maybe the best young player in our league right now.”

That’s about it for now. I’ll get back to you tonight.

Timberwolves' Thaddeus Young to miss games after mother's death

Posted by: Chris Miller Updated: November 14, 2014 - 10:40 AM

Timberwolves forward Thaddeus Young will miss the team's game tonight in New Orleans and Saturday in Dallas because of the Thursday death of his mother, Lula Hall.

The Wolves released this statement: "The Timberwolves organization is deeply saddened to learn of the passing yesterday of Lula Hall, Thaddeus Young’s mother. The Timberwolves send our condolences to the Young and Hall families in this difficult time. Thad will be away from the team with his family for an indefinite period of time, including tonight’s game at New Orleans and Saturday night’s game at Dallas."

Wolves at Magic tonight is a test, in more ways than one

Posted by: Jerry Zgoda Updated: November 7, 2014 - 5:35 PM

We'll get an idea how mature these young-ish Wolves are by the end of tonight's game at Orlando.

We'll see if they can handle a little success.

That success is a 2-2 record that included Wednesday's comeback victory at Brooklyn. Now they've got a game that's eminently winnable, the first night of back-to-back games that take them to Miami Saturday night.

We'll also see how Flip Saunders manages minutes in back-to-back games.

Saunders said he'll coach the game as he normally does and then make adjustments with minutes and rotations in Miami if he needs to do so.

He said the 32 minutes Nikola Pekovic played in Wednesday's dominant performance over Brook Lopez "might be a little high even," but he said the game's moderate pace allowed him to play Pekovic that much.

"It was a slower game," Saunders said. "He didn't have to get up and down the floor as much."

He said he'll play Gorgui Dieng more minutes Saturday if he has to.

He also might call upon Ronny Turiaf that night to play for the first time this season. Turiaf is inactive again tonigjht -- along with Glenn Robinson III -- even though he looked pretty ready to play duriing Thursday's scrimmages in Orlando.

Wolves open long trip at Brooklyn vs. Nets, KG

Posted by: Jerry Zgoda Updated: November 5, 2014 - 6:23 PM

The Wolves begin a six-game trip that takes them all the way to Mexico City next week and back again tonight at Brooklyn.

It'll reunite Wolves coach Flip Saunders, Sam Mitchell and Sidney Lowe with Nets star Kevin Garnett, whom Saunders and Lowe coached and with whom Mitchell played long ago.

"I'm excited to coach against him tonight," Saunders said before the game. "I'll always have a soft spot. I had him when he was 18 years old. Sam was with us. We've had a huge part in seeing develop as a player, seen him become Da Kid and eventually The Man.'"

Tonight's game also puts together on opposite sidelines Saunders and new Nets coach Lionel Hollins.

Saunders interviewed Hollins for the Wolves' open job last April, but conversations didn't go much further than that.

Saunders said Kevin Love's uncertain future affected his decision not to pursue Hollins any further.

"It was just an interview," Hollins said. "They hired somebody else. That's where it went."

Saunders, of course, ended up hiring himself for the job.

One more thing:

Thad Young is set to start tonight game, four nights after he got knocked out of Saturday's game when he was elbowed in the head. He said this morning he's fine and ready to play.

The Wolves' only injury concern is Ronny Turiaf's still sore hip. He's inactive tonight but Saunders said he was hopeful Turiaf will be available in the coming games at Orlando and Miami.

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