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 NBA today named Kevin Love its Western Conference Player of the Week for the second time this season.
Love won in the West was Charlotte's Kemba Walker won in the East.
Love did so in a week when he reached his first career triple-double -- 37 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists -- in Saturday's 121-104 victory at Utah and led the Wolves to a 2-1 week.
He averaged 36.7 points -- the league's best -- and 12.7 rebounds in those three games and now has scored 30 or more points in five consecutive games, a franchise record by one game over Kevin Garnett.
Love won the award in the first week of the season, too.
These are the first two times in his six-year NBA career that he has won the honor.
Somebody asked Portland coach Terry Stotts before tonight's game against the Timberwolves at Moda Center if he wanted to limit things to a 6-feet and under game tonight.
"No, let's play the real thing, " he said.
Expect both teams to go small: The Blazers are missing All-Star power forward LaMarcus Aldridge as well as injured big men Joel Freeland and Meyers Leonard while the Wolves once again will play without their top two centers -- starter Nikola Pekovic and Ronny Turiaf -- as well as starting shooting guard Kevin Martin.
Martin did go through what looked like a pretty complete workout before tonight's game, putting his fracture left thumb through paces that included regular motions he'd use trying to catch and shoot the ball for the first time since he was injured at New Orleans earlier this month.
He had that left thumb taped only, no splint like he had been wearing because he said he won't be able to catch the ball and put it on the floor wearing a splint in games.
He flies to Los Angeles Monday morning to get a second opinion from a hand specialist there and will rejoin the team in Phoenix Monday night.
Nikola Pekovic worked out at length before tonight's game at Jazz but will not play.
With both Pekovic and Ronny Turiaf out, Rick Adelman instead will start Dante Cunningham in the frontcourt alongside Kevin Love and Corey Brewer and then improvise from there, using rookie Gorgui Dieng as much as Dieng can avoid fast foul trouble.
The Jazz, meanwhile, will play without starting forward Derrick Favors, who will missed his third consecutive game with a hip strain.
Kevin Martin said at this morning's shootaround that he's headed to Los Angeles Monday to get another opinion on his fractured thumb but remains hopeful he'll play before this five-game trip that begins tonight at Utah ends nine days later in Denver.
He won't play at least the first two games, tonight and at Portland on Sunday,
Nikola Pekovic said he'll test his ankle out before tonight's game and decide if he can play limited minutes.
He said he still has pain from bursitis in his ankle, but said his doctor said that's normal and fine as long as the pain doesn't increase.
It hasn't so far after two days of workouts back in Minneapolis on Thursday and Friday, he said.
If he can't play and with Ronny Turiaf out for likely the next three weeks at least, the Wolves will have to do some improvising at center.
They'll have to play Gorgui Dieng more, but just how much Rick Adelman is willing to rely upon remains to be seen. Or they'll have to use Kevin Love and Dante Cunningham there against a Jazz lineup that can go big with Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors, although Adelman wants to limit how much more pounding he asks Love to take since he has been banged up pretty good already.
Alexey Shved said he's dumping the protective mask and will play without it tonight for the first time in a month.
He might want to keep it on just one more game: It was right here in Utah a month ago when Rudy Gobert whacked him in the face and broke his nose.
Timberwolves star Kevin Love said today he hasn’t told the team he will opt out of his contract in summer 2015 and sign elsewhere, as a series of Internet Tweets reported after Wednesday’s 104-91 home victory over Indiana.
Love told reporters this after practice today: “We laughed about it today. It’s a media-driven story. For the past couple years, I can’t believe some of the stuff that has come out. We went out and played hard last night, great performance as a team. To see some stuff like that is just kind of disheartening.”
Love spoke with the media this afternoon, just before the NBA’s trade deadline came and went without the Wolves making a deal.
That means Love is still a Timberwolf and one who’s about to play more center now that backup center Ronny Turiaf is hurting, too. He sustained a bone bruise on his right knee in the fourth quarter and is out indefinitely, the team said today.
Longtime NBA columnist and commentator Peter Vecsey in a series of unsourced tweets Wednesday night said Love told Wolves boss Flip Saunders before the All-Star break that he has decided to play elsewhere when he can escape a four-year contract a year early in July 2015. He said expect Love to be traded by Thursday’s trade deadline or in this upcoming off-season and said Love wants to play only for teams with a winning culture and mentioned Boston and Chicago as possible teams that would have assets to trade for Love and that would fit his criteria.
Saunders called the report “false” in a tweet that responded to Vecsey’s tweets just after the Wolves beat the Pacers.
Love said he and Flip laughed about the report, but Love did confirm part of Saunders' tweet sent out Wednesday night. Saunders said the last conversation he had with Love was about Love telling him how bad his sport coat was.
"I did say that," Love said. "Anyone who saw him, it was pretty bad."
Love told GQ magazine in an interview released this week that he’s having “fun” in Minnesota and that the Wolves are better positioned to win than the Los Angeles Lakers, the team so many assume he will sign with in 2015.
“Basically all I said is our foundation and our team is better than a lot of teams that you guys and Peter Vecsey and whoever the hell else says I’m going to,” Love said.
Speculation about his future will continue until Love either opts out in July 2015 and re-signs with the Wolves or another team or until the team trades before that.
“It comes with the territory,” Love said. “I just don’t want to talk about it. It takes away from the team. It takes away from what Coach is trying to do. At the end of the day, I just want to play basketball. I don’t want to think about whether I’m going to be here or somewhere else in 2015, 2016 or whatever it is.”
When Wolves coach Rick Adelman was asked Love requesting a trade, he said, “Really? C’mon? You know, he got 42 points last night and we won the game. Some of this stuff comes out of nowhere. That’s so far in the future, I don’t even worry about that. I just worry about the fact, it didn’t look like he was going anywhere last night and that’s the direction I wanted. In this world today: `What’s LeBron going to do next year? What’s Carmelo going to do next year?’ Who cares? It’s going to happen, it’s going to happen. In Kevin’s situation, he’s here with us. I’m glad as the coach that he is with us. I’ve never heard anything about that. He certainly hasn’t said anything to me, so I don’t dwell on that.”
The Wolves leave Friday for a five-game Western trip in which Adelman will have to cobble together a lineup at center now that Turiaf is out and Nikola Pekovic still hasn’t yet returned.
Pekovic participated in drills and other court work during Thursday’s semi-practice and is expected to do more on Friday, Adelman said. But Adelman said Pekovic’s return remains unknown and indicated it isn’t imminent.
“I welcome it as long as I’m not taking any more shots to anywhere on my body,” Love said about playing more at center. “It’s another thing that comes with the territory. We pray that guys come back as soon as possible.”
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