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.
Wolves guard J.J. Barea, bothered by a sprained left foot in Minnesota’s loss in Houston Thursday, is questionable for Sunday’s game with Phoenix at Target Center.
“It’s better,” said Barea, who did not take part in the team’s practice Saturday. “It’s a sprain. I had it checked out (Friday), to make sure it wasn’t a stress fracture. It’s better. Hopefully it will be better (Sunday). I’m going to get a good warmup, a good workout before the game, and see how it feels.”
Barea said the foot – the same one that he hurt running into the scorer’s table last season – has been bothering him for about a week, getting steadily worse. He woke up Thursday in Houston with the foot very sore and was unable to do much in that night’s game.
Meanwhile, Wolves coach Rick Adelman said center Nikola Pekovic’s sore ankle was feeling better, but he did not do much in Saturday’s practice and is doubtful for Sunday’s game. Backup center Ronny Turiaf (knee) and guard A.J. Price (appendectomy) are out. That means if Barea cannot play Sunday against the Suns, Alexey Shved would become the backup point guard.
Some other tidbits from Saturday’s workout:
--Wolves coach Rick Adelman said he went up to Pekovic on the plane right home from Houston – where rookie Gorgui Dieng had scored 22 points with 21 rebounds – and asked him if he’d ever heard of Wally Pipp. “That was a big mistake,” Adelman said. “Because he’d never heard of Wally Pipp and he’d never heard of Lou Gehrig. The lesson kind of lost its meaning.”
--Barea was jokingly asked if the attempted tip-dunk of a Ricky Rubio miss in Wednesday’s victory in Dallas was the reason for his sore foot. After all, the relatively diminutive Barea doesn’t get that far off the ground very often.
“That’s the first time I was hanging on the rim,” Barea said. “I was just surprised. I surprised myself, I’m telling you. It was like, ‘What am I doing up here?’ It was fun.”
That’s about it for now. I’ll get back to you from tomorrow’s game.
Before the Wolves boarded their charter to Charlotte, they spent much of Thursday’s practice working on their defense, in two particular areas. First, their post defense against Bobcats center Al Jefferson, and their pick-and-roll defense against Bobcats guard Kemba Walker.
Jefferson, in particular, has really had it rolling lately.
“Everyone knows what he’s capable of,” Kevin Love said. “People ask me who is the toughest guy to go against, when it comes to the post. It’s Al."
Jefferson is the only Eastern Conference player averaging better than 20 points and 10 rebounds per game. He and Walker have the Bobcats playing pretty well right now, having won four of five games. The team is currently in the playoff picture out East.
“He has played great the last three weeks,” Wolves coach Rick Adelman said of Jefferson. They made the trade – getting Luke Ridnour and Gary Neal in trade Feb. 20 – they added a couple shooters. They’re a better all-around team.’’
Here are some other items from today’s practice:
--Look for Adelman to try to find more time for Ricky Rubio and J.J. Barea to play together going forward. After spending much of the season trying to find a rotation he can stick with, Adleman sounded Thursday like he was going to try to tighten it up a bit.
--Center Ronny Turiaf, out since Feb. 19 with a bone bruise in his right knee, did some things on the court today. Adelman said he hopes Turiaf’s return was near. Turiaf, talking briefly with the press, said he still felt pain in the knee when he bends the knee and that the knee was quite tender. “It’s been very frustrating,” he said.
--Adelman said center Nikola Pekovic’s ongoing minutes limitation might be easing soon. And the team needs it, with some nice centers on the upcoming schedule.
That’s about it for now. Jerry will be with the team in Charlotte.
The day after a very disappointing loss to the Knicks, the Wolves spent a lot of time looking a film. This is what they saw:
“We defended very poorly,” coach Rick Adelman said.
“Our pick and roll defense was pretty bad,” Corey Brewer said.
Then the Wolves spent a rather long practice trying to change that. With games dwindling and playoff prospects dimming, the Wolves cannot afford a replay of the effort they showed against the Knicks Wednesday.
Tomorrow the Wolves get Detroit, another Eastern Conference team that is struggling, having lost eight of their last 10 games. But fans know what that’s worth; the Knicks came into Wednesday’s game having lost seven straight.
“We’re better than our record,” Brewer said. “We’ve lost a lot of close games. We felt like we were starting to play well, but last night was a tough loss to take. Especially coming off a good road trip.”
A couple items from today’s practice:
--Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio, who both stayed long after practice to work on their shots, were the last two players off the court today.
--Center Nikola Pekovic continues to feel pain in his ankle. He can play through it, he says, but the team is going to have to continue to watch his minutes for the foreseeable future.
“It’s hard to explain,” he said. “When I’m running, jumping, I have pain,” he said. “But when I finish I don’t have pain.’’
That’s about it for now. Jerry will be with the team tomorrow.
Wolves coach Rick Adelman flew home to Minneapolis after Tuesday's 110-101 comeback victory at Phoenix to spend a rare three-day break during a five-game road trip with his wife, Mary Kay.
She has not experienced further issues with a seizure condition that caused him to miss 11 games in January 2013 and a Feb. 10 home game against Houston, a team source said.
The Wolves will not practice Wednesday in Phoenix because they played three games in four nights ending Tuesday.
Assistant coach Terry Porter will coach practice Thursday and Friday in Phoenix before the team leaves later in the day on Friday for Sacramento.
Adelman is expected to meet the team there.
Well, it appears center Nikola Pekovic (ankle bursitis) and Kevin Martin (broken thumb) are getting closer to playing. But I don’t think either will play Saturday in Utah.
Wolves coach Rick Adelman said Pekovic, who has missed 10 games, again did drill work at Friday’s practice. Martin, meanwhile, did less than Pekovic. Martin got his left thumb looked at in the morning, and was scheduled to get a second opinion before the team left for Utah Friday afternoon.
Adelman said he was reasonable to expect both could play on the upcoming five-game road trip. But when? That’s the question.
“They’ve been out for a while,” Adelman said. “The biggest thing for Pek is how much soreness will he have and what kind of condition will he be in? Martin has been able to run. He should be OK as soon as the doctor says he can go. But I don’t know when that will be.”
So that means the Wolves, also without backup center Ronny Turiaf, will have to do some mixing and matching at the position in the short term. Rookie Gorgui Dieng will get more minutes. But his rawness on the offensive end and his proclivity for fouling means the Wolves can’t depend on him picking up the slack.
So look for Kevin Love to play some center on the defensive end, along with Dante Cunningham. Adelman said he’s loath to use Love there too much, not wanting to tire him out or put him in foul trouble. “Kevin has a lot of responsibility right now,” Adelman said. “he’s going to have to play the center some. But you’ve got to think about not wearing him down. So we’ll have to play that by ear.’’
Look for Cunningham to get a lot of minutes there. Also, when matchups allow the Wolves to go small, look for Luc Mbah a Moute to get minutes at the power forward position.
In other items:
--Both J.J. Barea and Chase Budinger expressed relief that the trade deadline has passed without any moves.
--Barea, who is 14-for-18 from the field his past two games, said he had been putting too much pressure on himself to score for the second unit. It wasn’t until he quit pushing things, he said, that the shots started to fall.
That’s about it. Jerry will be with the team in Utah tomorrow.
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