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 Lakers just completed their shootaround at Target Center this morning minus one Metta World Peace while the Wolves stayed home and rested after winning big last night in Detroit.
Jodie Meeks will start in place of World Peace for a Lakers team that's still scrapping to make the playoffs.
World Peace has returned to L.A. after an MRI taken Tuesday in Minneapolis revealed a cartilage tear in the lateral meniscus of his left knee.
"I feel bad for Metta, but hopefully it's not too serious," Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said after shoot. "At this time of the year, it's not easy."
The Lakers have been bit by injuries all season -- not like the Wolves mind you, but bit nonetheless.
When asked if the latest has caused him to ask what else can happen, D'Antoni said, "No, well, other stuff can happen. Don't tempt fate a little bit. It happens. Every team it happens to. Just look at Minnesota, they're just getting their guys back now and not all of them. You just fight through it."
Chase Budinger declared himself ready to play tonight in Sacramento for the first time in four months.
He said his surgically repaired knee felt fine when he awoke Thursday morning in Sacramento after participating in his first contact practice with teammates on Wednesday.
"It just felt good to go up and down and see how the knee felt, go up and down and see how my wind was," Budinger said. "It was just a good indication where I'm at. I am a little rusty, but hopefully I got all the rust out yesterday."
Neither Budinger nor Rick Adelman knew how much Budinger will play tonight against the Kings.
Adelman called it a "perfect storm" that he is limiting Andrei Kirilenko to six minutes stretches and now will probably do so with Budinger.
"Maybe we'll just keep alternating them back and forth until somebody tells me they're at their limit," Adelman said.
The Wolves are back at it tonight in Memphis, just 24 hours after Andrei Kirilenko and Nikola Pekovic returned from injury and each made big plays that beat New Orleans in the final seconds on Sunday.
Rick Adelman played Kirilenko nearly 25 minutes last night, nearly five minutes more than he was advised.
But Kirilenko did come up with two huge blocked shots at the end to save the game.
"I think they would prefer not to have him play 20 minutes," Adelman said, referring to the team's training staff. "I hedged a bit last night. If it was an average (of 20 minutes) over two nights, that means he has to play 16 tonight. I don't know, but you have to be a little careful with him with the calf.
"But Pek says he feels good. I thought he got winded and made some mistakes. Hopefully we can play him as much as we played him last night."
Pekovic played 24:22 against the Hornets.
A couple other things:
* Chase Budinger continues to work out hard with coaches and said it's possible he could make his return Thursday at Sacramento, IF he comes through his first 5-on-5 practice Wednesday feeling good.
"It all depends on how I practice," he said before tonight's game, adding he's moving better and his conditioning is coming along but that there's no substitute for playing in games.
* Brandon Roy shot before tonight's game, but Adelman said he has not been given any indication that Roy is close to practicing again, let alone playing.
Center Nikola Pekovic and forward Andrei Kirilenko will both play tonight when the Wolves take on New Orleans at Target Center.
Kirilenko had missed nine straight games since straining his left calf Feb. 26 at Phoenix. Pekovic had missed eight games with an abdominal strain.
It appears both will start, though coach Rick Adelman was being cagey about it. "Could start 'em, could bring 'em off the bench, may start one," he joked. " I don't know. I'm getting a lot of input from the assistant coaches. My tendency is to start 'em. They're two of our best players. But there are matchups out there, things we're looking at. I want to see how they perform. I think the best way to do that is to start 'em. I would hate not to start 'em, and have 'em come into the game and pull something. Then it's on me. I'm not going to do that."
So now the Wolves, who played with just nine available players so far this March, are at 11. It appears neither will be limited in minutes by injury concerns. The most important thing is conditioning.
Meanwhile, Adelman had no update on Chase Budinger. I would think we'll know a lot more about him when the team practices next, which should be Wednesday.
That's about it for now. I'll get back to you after the game.
Kevin Love did not get clearance for contact play during a visit to his New York City surgeon and will be re-evaluated in another two to three weeks.
His visit with Dr. Michelle Carlson of the Hospital of Special Surgery determined his right shooting hand is "healing properly," according to a team release, and he will continue to increase his conditioning program while he waits to be evaluated again.
Two weeks would leave about three weeks left in the season -- or about 12 games -- although he likely would need some practice time and wouldn't go directly into playing games.
Three weeks would leave about two weeks left, or eight games at the very most.
Today's news increases the chances that perhaps they decide not to play him at all again this season, but we'll see.
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