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.
Greetings for a final time from Target Center.
I’m not a big one for moral victories, but this might meet the cut. The Wolves, hampered again by injury, started slow, but fought back and played a very entertaining game, staying in the contest in an ice-cold fourth quarter that saw them hit just one of 14 field goal attempts. That’s only happened three times in franchise history.
Afterward both coach Flip Saunders and Kevin Garnett praised the play of the young players on a night when rookies Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine and Adreian Payne all scored in double figures.
Here are some final thoughts on the game:
--The Wolves keep pushing LaVine to attack the basket, and he did more of that tonight. Part of that was being able to play the off-guard spot, and often being on the floor with Ricky Rubio. He really got out on the break tonight, had two impressive dunks and finished with 14 points on 5-for-9 shooting.
--It was a wonderful game for Rubio, who hit 5 of 11 shots, 11 of 12 free throws. He got his fourth career triple double with 18 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists. He has had at least a points-assist double-double in three straight games, the longest such streak in his career.
--Gary Neal’s 19 points was his best in a Wolves uniform.
--Two things on Gorgui Dieng: First, he keeps working very hard, and keeps racking up double-doubles. He had his 15th of the season tonight. But, second, he has a lot of muscle to add before he can bang with the likes of DeAndre Jordan.
--If I told someone who hadn’t watched the game that the Wolves had made just one fourth-quarter field goal, then asked them to guess who hit it do you think anyone would guess Chase Budinger?
--Garnett had 12 points, his first time in double figures since returning to the Wolves.
That’s about it for now. Have a great night.
Greetings from a final time from Target Center, where the Wolves went 1-0 since the Kevin Garnett trade even though Garnett wasn’t in the building.Garnett had his physical Friday in Los Angeles. He will arrive in Minneapolis Monday and make his debut Wednesday night.
Here are some thoughts on the game:
--In his last game as a teenager, Andrew Wiggins turned in one of his most impressive performances. He scored 20 points, and it was an impressive 20. He ran the floor, he scored through contact. He was aggressive from start to finish. It was his basket late – off a Rubio feed – that helped seal the win. After the game he joked about turning 20, saying he’d miss his teens. “I liked being young,’’ he quipped.
--It was another very impressive, very efficient night from Kevin Martin, who also played some very gritty defense down the stretch. Martin scored 28 points taking just 16 shots.
--Gorgui Dieng had another double-double tonight. But his best moment came late when he stood his ground on Markieff Morris late, forcing a missed shot.
--Further proof that coach Flip Saunders has no intention of tanking for a draft pick: Tonight Ricky Rubio was supposed to be kept to about 30 minutes and Nikola Pekovic is supposed to be kept somewhere in that area as well. Well, Pek played nearly 36 minutes, Rubio 37.
--More Rubio: What a night. 10 points, 14 assists, eight rebounds, two steals. And some great fourth-quarter defense on Eric Bledsoe, who didn’t score in the quarter.
--It was bad luck for Andrew Bennett, who got his third start of the season and was hurt after playing just eight-plus minutes. He got a contusion on his right calf scrambling for a rebound in the first quarter and did not return. He was limping after the game. The good news is that X-rays were negative and Bennett indicated that it wasn’t a serious injury.
That’s about it for tonight. Have a great weekend.
After the game was over nobody in the Wolves locker room was prepared to claim a moral victory after the team rallied from a 14-point, fourth-quarter deficit to tie the game twice before losing 94-91,
I think that’s a good thing.
Instead, one veteran after another – led by Ricky Rubio – lamented the poor start by the team. Whether that was due to a team filled with many players who very much need the upcoming All Star break or with too many young players who have yet to learn the need for consistent effort remains to be seen. But Wednesday, in an exciting fourth quarter, the Wolves stood toe-to-toe with a very good team.
Some thoughts on the game:
--In a way, it’s too bad Andrew Wiggins is going to be busy this weekend. He could use a little rest. Coach Flip Saunders said so after the game, and Wiggins is clearly showing the wear of playing so many minutes in his first season. Wiggins was 3-for-7 for six points in 38-plus minutes tonight.
--Kevin Martin continues to shoot the ball very well. He scored another 21 points tonight, making three of five three-pointers. It was his second straight game with three or more three-pointers made.
--Nikola Pekovic finished the game with 17 points and 13 rebounds, his sixth double-double this season. His 13 rebounds were the most since he returned from injury Jan. 21. He’s averaging 14.6 points and 6.5 rebounds since his return.
--Rubio’s 18 points and nine rebounds were both season highs. He also hit two three-pointers. He is 6-for-13 on three-pointers since his return from injury.
That’s about it for now. See you after the break.
Greetings for a final time tonight
Well, the Wolves have their first three-game winning streak since March of last year. And they did it tonight without Ricky Rubio. Pekovic was wonderful tonight on offense, banging with big Andre Drummond, scoring a season-high 29 points, with 15 coming in the fourth quarter.
Here are a few notes from tonight’s game:
--I’m told this was the fourth time Pekovic has scored 15 points in one quarter.
--I continue to be impressed with Kevin Martin’s complete game. He worked really hard tonight, played 42 minutes. He worked very hard on offense, scored 24 points – seven in the fourth quarter – and had a season-high nine rebounds.
--After the game coach Flip Saunders praised Anthony Bennett for his play. The box score will show he only played 16½ minutes and only scored two points. But he got five rebounds, passed the ball well and avoided taking those long two-pointers. He was a big part of the Wolves being able to close this game out.
--Andrew Wiggins had a strong night, scoring 18 points, getting eight rebounds and five assists. Very well-rounded game. He had a block, too.
--Gorgui Dieng is going to need to add some strength and heft to go toe-to-toe with the likes of Andre Drummond. Dieng was largely ineffective tonight.
That’s about it for now. Jerry will pick up the team tomorrow, when the Wolves will go for four straight against the Hawks at Target Center.
Seems all I do is cover Wolves victories.
But tonight’s come-from-behind victory was a lot of fun to watch. It was also the first time the Wolves had rallied from a double-digit fourth-quarter deficit to win a game in nearly 27 months. Ricky Rubio was very good in his first home game back at Target Center since spraining his left ankle months ago. But this one was a team effort. The comeback was started with Rubio on the bench.
But it was Rubio who helped finish it.
Here are some observations on the game:
--This was Kevin Martin’s 80th career game with 30 or more points, his fourth this season. He was very, very good, with some key three-pointers in an otherwise difficult third quarter.
--Thad Young really came to play in the fourth quarter when he was part of a group – Gorgui Dieng was another key cog – that helped the Wolves finally control the boards. Young finished with 16 points and is averaging 17.2 points on 48.4-percent shooting over his last 11 games.
--Dieng had the first four points of that fourth-quarter comeback and he finished with 13 points on 4-for-5 shooting and nine rebounds. He had seven points, six rebounds and a block in the fourth quarter.
--The Wolves have won two of their last three home games after losing 10 straight.
--Tonight was just the fifth time this season the Wolves have shot better than 50 percent.
That’s about all for now. I’ll get back to you after tomorrow’s practice.
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