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 On the road

Yo, Yeo!: Wolves get practice visitor, Rubio return still uncertain

Posted by: Jerry Zgoda Updated: December 10, 2012 - 8:05 PM

That was Wild coach Mike Yeo watching the Wolves' practice courtside at Target Center this afternoon.

Guess he's got some free time on his hands.

Yeo also chatted with Rick Adelman for about 20 minutes after practice, picking his brain on, among other topics, how to plan and prepare a team to play a condensed, lockout-shortened season.

Adelman has done it twice, most recently with last season's 66-game sked.

Yeo will get his chance, IF the NHL and its players pull their heads out and reach a new labor deal before it gets too late.

Yeo called Adelman's advice "helpful and insightful."

"The chance to speak to a person like that with experience and his success, it's great for a coach like me," Yeo said.

Adelman, after all, is closing in on his 1000th NBA career victory this season.

Yeo has won 35 NHL games.

He laughed when I mentioned the prospect of 1,000 career victories.

"That's what makes it so impressive and great for me to have the chance to speak to somebody like that," Yeo said. "One thing I certainly have a value for is experience and success. I have an awful long way to go to reach something like that."

Other tidbits from practice:

* Two weeks ago, the Wolves internally set Wednesday's game against Denver as a target date for Ricky Rubio's return.

On Monday, Adelman said he still doesn't know if Rubio will return Wednesday, Saturday against Dallas or sometime beyond that.

He said it will depend on how Rubio's knee tests out for strength and endurance and the decisions management and the medical staff make about an upcoming schedule that has the Wolves playing four games in five nights -- including three on the road -- after Wednesday.

He said they still must decide if Rubio will be on a minutes limit and how best to approach that, if he'll play back-to-back games and if Adelman wants to start him or bring him off the bench.

"He could go out and play some right now, but is that the smart thing to do?" Adelman said. "I'd like to see him where he's ready to go andright now I don't think anybody can gauge that. He seems fine given the injury he had, but you don't want him to get other injuries by going out too soon and pulling a muscle, doing something like that."

* Brandon Roy shot for the second consecutive day back with the team, but isn't ready to practice yet.

Adelman said he hopes Roy will ramp up his activitiy next week if he comes through this week still feeling fine.

He said Roy looks good, but will know more after seeing him cut and move on that arthroscopically repaired knee next week.

* Adelman said Nikola Pekovic practiced unaffected today by that hurting ankle that bothered him three games last week.

* Derrick Williams continues to say all the right things about remaining patient with his playing time, or rather outright lack of it.

He said he talks to his agent -- Kobe's guy, Rob Pelinka -- every day after life things, but said they haven't discussed requesting a trade.

I asked Williams if his patience is unlimited and he said, "I wouldn't say that," but said he's not about to complain about playing (or not playing) behind guys like Kevin Love and Andrei Kirilenko.

Kudos for the Wolves backcourt

Posted by: Kent Youngblood Updated: December 4, 2012 - 9:41 PM

 I can’t remember the last time I watched a Wolves game when the backcourt, from start to finish, played better.  Maybe back in the 2003-04 season, when Sammy Cassell was rolling and Troy Hudson, though usually hurt, had an occasional strong game.

Malcom Lee didn’t miss a shot, didn’t turn the ball over and had an assist and 10 points. Luke Ridnour had 10 points and four assists. And then there was J.J. Barea and Alexey Shved. Barea had his first double-double of the season and Shved hit four of seven three-pointers on the way to a team-high 17 points.

The Wolves won easily, on the road against a winning team, on a night when Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic combined to shoot 5-for-17. It’s nights like this that makes you wonder how good this team can be once Ricky Rubio is back. Not to mention Andrei Kirilenko, who stayed home with back spasms.

“Malcolm and Luke got us going,” Wolves coach Rick Adelman said. “Then J.J. and Alexey were great.”

That about sums this one up. Here are some other observations from tonight’s action:

 

--I think the fact that four of the five Wolves starters didn’t play in the fourth quarter will help the team tomorrow in Boston.

--I think Love, whose double-double streak ended at six after he shot 2-for-10, will have a bigger night Wednesday playing against Kevin Garnett.

--Josh Howard continues to improve as he gets his legs under him. He played a season-high 29:01, got his first double-double since April 10, 2009 and hit on seven of 12 shots {two of three three-pointers).

 

That’s about it for now. I’ll get back at you prior to Wednesday’s game with Boston. Have a good night. 

Love returns in loss

Posted by: Kent Youngblood Updated: November 21, 2012 - 10:38 PM

 What a strange evening at Target Center. I haven’t covered many games that started with such high emotion and ended with such disappointment.

That said, Wolves fans should be encouraged by what is coming. The Wolves got Kevin Love, J.J. Barea and Nikola Pekovic back tonight. Ricky Rubio should be back  by the new year. Even without Rubio, this is a Wolves team that will win some games.

But first Love has to get into game shape and all the pieces in the Wolves rotation have to get used to playing together again. “I think we are on the right track,” Andrei Kirilenko said. “It’s bad that we are losing, but are on the right track. We are getting back our guys and they are getting playing time. We need to get a win, a very physical, aggressive win, and I think right now on the road is a great chance to to this.”

 

Jerry was at the game tonight, and he will be posting some video later. Until then, some other thoughts on the game:

 

--It’s amazing Love scored 34 points on a night when he clearly looked a bit out of condition and not comfortable with the brace on his hand.

--The Wolves stopped cutting to the basket in the second half, choosing instead to watch Love work. Bad move.

--Malcolm Lee struggled tonight, going 1-for-8, but he never stopped shooting. The  Wolves got 10 points from the starting backcourt of Lee and Luke Ridnour.

--It was very telling what coach Rick Adelman thought of the way Derrick Williams played while others were hurt. He was the only active player not to see a second of playing time.

 

That’s about all for now. Jerry will be with the team on the upcoming road trip. Have a great Thanksgiving. 

Rubio ramping up the rehab

Posted by: Kent Youngblood Updated: November 3, 2012 - 3:32 PM

 As the Wolves finished up practice Saturday before hitting the road for Toronto, Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio started doing some conditioning exercises.

I thought Rubio, coming back from knee surgery, looked very nimble. The Wolves have bringing Rubio along slowly, deliberately. But, week by week, he looks to be doing more. Saturday he was doing lateral movement exercises with Love. The two would shuffle laterally the width of the court at one end line, then sprint the length of the court. Rubio didn’t look to be holding back much in either phase; during his sprint he looked very fast.

I would imagine Rubio isn’t far away from starting to do some cutting exercises.

Both Love and Rubio are going with the team on the trip, which will take the Wolves to Toronto and then Brooklyn. This isn’t big news; coach Rick Adelman believes it’s important the two remain with the team as much as possible.

“All of our staff is on the road, so they get treatment there,” he said. “And I think (Love and Rubio) need to be around the team. I just think they can help our guys, talking to ‘em. Then, when they do come back, it’s more of a seamless transition. And it helps the guys who are playing.”

 

Here are some other nuggets gleaned from talking with Adelman today:

--Adelman thought Brandon Roy looked good in his first regular-season game after a one-year retirement. But he knows Roy can get better. “He’s still getting his legs underneath him,” Adelman said. “I’ll take all the outside shots he took last night {Roy was 4-for-14 from the field, 0-for-5 on three-pointers}. Eventually he’s going to make them.”

As for Roy’s ability to play at regular-season speed, Adelman said Roy’s first step is still there, and he showed he can get to the line late in games as he did Thursday. “I think it’s going to take some time with him,” Adelman said. “He missed a whole year.”

--Adelman reiterated that he liked many of the shots the team took – and missed – Thursday. “First quarter I thought we were really good,” he said. “I thought the third quarter, that team that started, got really out of synch. They didn’t move the ball, they didn’t play together well.”

That said, Adelman said all but two or three of the 17 three-pointers the Wolves took were good shots.

--Luke Ridnour’s second-half minutes were limited by the play of J.J. Barea rather than any concerns over the sore back he nursed during the preseason. “I just felt J.J. had it going. I just wanted to keep him out there.”

 

That’s about it for today. Jerry will be with the team on the road.

 

Moving on: Wolves begin 7-game trip with 127-124 victory at Phoenix

Posted by: Jerry Zgoda Updated: March 13, 2012 - 5:42 AM

Two nights after they looked so shocked and stunned against New Orleans, the Wolves on Monday night began that seven-game trip that could define their season by outlasting the Suns 127-124 in Phoenix.

Here's the game story from Monday night and...

Here's a little of this, a little of that supplied by the team from the game as well as a good bit of video from post-game interviews:

* The Wolves were missing their most creative playmaker and yet set season highs for points, assists (30) and three-pointers made (14).

Their 63.6 percentage from three-point range was the best this season as well.

* After consecutive losses at home on Friday to the Lakers and Saturday to New Orleans, the Wolves have climbed back over .500 once again at 22-21 and they're back to a half-game behind Houston for that eighth and final playoff spot.

* Kevin Love made five of those 14 threes and scored 23 of his 30 points in the second half, including 14 in the fourth quarter alone.

He set a franchise record with his 15th 30-point game of the season, surpassing the 14 Tony Campbell had in 1989-90, the team's inaugural season. He now has 24 of those 30-point games in his career, behind Kevin Garnett (82) and Campbell (30) on the franchise list.

With those five threes, he now has five games this season with five or more threes and ties the club single-season record held also by Randy Foye in 2008-09, Latrell Sprewell in 2004-05 and James Robinson in 1996-97.

* And get this: Love is leading the NBA in scoring in March with a 32.2 ppg average.

 


Player                          G   Pts   FG%  3FG%   FT%   Reb  Ast
-------------------  -  ----  ----  ----  ----  ----  ----------------------------
Kevin Love, Min.         6  32.3  .471  .467    .804    12.7    2.2
Kobe Bryant, LA-L      6  30.5  .427  .324    .830      4.7    3.8
LeBron James, Mia   6  29.5  .574  .353    .689    10.3    5.2
Kevin Durant, OkC     6  29.0  .454  .325    .883      7.3    3.5
Dwight Howard, Orl.  6  28.5  .670  .000    .500    14.0    1.2

* Love also moved into second place on the team's all-time rebounding list.

With 7 Monday, Love now has 3,035 career rebounds and passed Sam Mitchell (3,030).

He now trails only Kevin Garnett who finished with 10,542 rebounds for his Minnesota career.

"Only 7,500 more?" he asked. "Is that all?"

* The Wolves ended a 9-game losing streak to the Suns, including five straight in Phoenix. The Wolves last beat them Jan. 16, 2009 during that fine January they put together after Kevin McHale took over for Randy Wittman as coach.

* About those 30 assists, Luke Ridnour had nine, J.J. Barea had a season-high 8 in 15 minutes in his first game back after missing two games because of a sprained ankle and Martell Webster set a career-high with six.

* Those 127 points tied the eighth most in franchise history and it's also the most in a non-overtime road games in team history.

Until Monday, their season high was 122 at Portland just nine days earlier. The 35 points in the second quarter was a season high.

* The Wolves have 10 or more threes for the sixth time in the last 10 games, and they're 6-0 in those games.

They're shooting 41.9 percent on threes in that time and seven players all are making better than 40 percent each.They are: 

Wes Johnson     13-24      54.2%

Mike Beasley         9-19     47.4%

Derrick Williams  14-30    46.7%

Wayne Ellington     5-11    45.5%

K-Love                    21-49   42.9%

Martell Webster     8-19     42.1%

J.J. Barea                5-12    41.7%

* Barea played 15-plus minutes in his first game back after missing two with that sprained ankle and reported he came through it feeling fine.

* Beasley scored 15 points in 11-plus minutes in the first half on 6-for-7 shooting and then barely played after halftime because of a sore toe that Markieff Morris stepped on and bent in the second quarter.

He yelped when he tried to put his shoe on that left foot and I wouldn't be surprised a bit if he misses some time because of it.

* The win was the Timberwolves NBA-leading 7th win in games decided by 3 points or less (tied with the LA Lakers), and an NBA high 13th game (7-6) in that category. No other team in the NBA has more than 10.

* The Wolves now are 10-9 on the road. In the West, only Oklahoma City (14-7), San Antonio (11-9) and Denver (11-9) have better road records. Remember, the Wolves won 10 road games total the last two seasons (5-36 in each of the last two seasons).

That's all from Phoenix on Monday night.

The Wolves will have an optional practice on Tuesday here and then will have a full regular practice on Wednesday before they fly to Salt Lake City for Thursday's game at Utah.

These two days between games are the first of only three such breaks between All-Star weekend and the season finale on April 26.

Good night from Phoenix...

 

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