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.
Well, I guess this is what happens when a team is beat up and at the end of an epic road trip.
I can’t believe I just covered the worst Wolves loss in franchise history. But that’s what happened. The Pelicans opened the game up with a 20-6 run, set all sorts of records for Wolves opponents and walked away with a 48-point victory against which all previous Wolves losses pale.
I have to say it was a very quiet Wolves locker room. Coach Flip Saunders said his team was hit with a haymaker early and never recovered. It seemed like the team was still dazed after it was over. It will be interesting to see how this group – without Ricky Rubio and Thaddeus Young – responds Saturday in Dallas.
Here are some final thoughts on the game:
--There wasn’t a lot of anger in the room. But Corey Brewer came close. Actually, both he and Nikola Pekovic flat out said Friday’s effort was unacceptable.
--Rookies Andrew Wiggins (20) and Zach LaVine (13) set career highs tonight in scoring. Wiggins, LaVine and Brewer were a combined 18-for-32. The rest of the team was 11-for-40.
--The Pelicans had more assists (31) than the Wolves had field goals (29). The Wolves managed just 13 assists.
--Glenn Robinson made his NBA debut, and finished with his first NBA point.
--The Wolves turned the ball over 24 times.
--Seeing what was happening, Saunders sat many of his players early. Pekovic, Kevin Martin, Brewer and Moe Williams all played less than 20 minutes. Perhaps there will be some energy left for Saturday’s road trip finale. If not, it could get ugly.
That’s about all for now. I’ll get back to you before Saturday’s game.
Greetings again from New Orleans
Wolves coach Flip Saunders was still being cagey about who will start at power forward tonight in place of Thaddeus Young, whose mother died Thursday. Actually, it probably doesn’t matter who starts. I think a number of players – Anthony Bennett, Gorgui Dieng, Robbie Hummel and maybe even Ronny Turiaf will get plenty of opportunity to guard Pelicans guard Anthony Davis tonight.
I look for Dieng to get a lot of run at the power forward position tonight; Turiaf’s health allows Saunders another option to back up starting center Nikola Pekovic. And Dieng has some experience guarding Davis from college.
That said, it will be difficult for anyone to slow Davis, who is off to one of the best starts in the league.
Other than Young and Ricky Rubio, Saunders said everyone is available tonight.
That’s about all for now. I’ll get back to you after the game.
Friday morning Thaddeus Young wasn’t with the Wolves in New Orleans. But he was on their minds, and in their prayers.
Young’s mother, Lulu Hall, died Thursday. Young had left the team to travel to Memphis, Tenn. To be with his mother, and was able to see her before she died. Young will remain with his family for the near future, which means he will miss tonight’s game against the Pelicans and Saturday’s game in Dallas at least.
“The last week she took a turn for the worst,” Wolves coach Flip Saunders said. “So we talked to him, told him that whenever he needed to go home he could go. Fortunately for him, he was able to get home and have a chance to talk to his mother before she passed away. Our sentiments go out to him and his family. He’s part of our family. She was part of our family. So it’s a sad day for everybody.”
Saunders said Hall had been sick for a while. “She had breast cancer a couple years ago,” he said. “I think it just reared its head.”
Young’s teammates said they would support him any way they could.
“I just sent him a text,” Corey Brewer said after the team’s morning shoot finished. “It’s tough. I know from when my dad passed. I can only imagine how he feels right now. I’m with him. I’m praying for him. All you can do is pray and be there if he needs anything.”
Said Zach LaVine: "We're all going to have a prayer for him."
Meanwhile, the Wolves to have to play a game tonight and figure out a way to at least slow down Pelicans power forward Anthony Davis. Saunders wouldn’t say who would start in Young’s place tonight – “You’ll have to wait until 7:05 tonight to find out,” he said -- but you have to figure that, no matter who starts, both Anthony Bennett and Robbie Hummel will get significant minutes tonight and Saturday.
Saunders also said you could see Gorgui Dieng and Nikola Pekovic on the floor together at times.
“It’s an opportunity,” Saunders. “Everybody has to step up. We don’t have Ricky (Rubio) or Thad, two of our most efficient guys. All of our fours are young guys. So it’s a good opportunity for them to play against maybe the best young player in our league right now.”
That’s about it for now. I’ll get back to you tonight.
Timberwolves forward Thaddeus Young will miss the team's game tonight in New Orleans and Saturday in Dallas because of the Thursday death of his mother, Lula Hall.
The Wolves released this statement: "The Timberwolves organization is deeply saddened to learn of the passing yesterday of Lula Hall, Thaddeus Young’s mother. The Timberwolves send our condolences to the Young and Hall families in this difficult time. Thad will be away from the team with his family for an indefinite period of time, including tonight’s game at New Orleans and Saturday night’s game at Dallas."
I hate to speak too soon but...
It looks like the Wolves are about to finally play in Mexico City.
The 75-minute mark before the game -- the time when smoke billowed into the Mexico City Arena 11 months ago postponing the Wolves-San Antonio game -- has long come and gone and it sure looks like all systems are go.
Zach LaVine again will start at point guard for the Wolves with Ricky Rubio back home in Minnesota tending to his significantly sprained ankle.
Anthony Bennett is expected to play after he missed the two games in Florida with that swollen knee he bumped against Chicago in the season's third game.
Rubio and rookie Glenn Robinson III are the team's two inactive players tonight. Guard Patrick Beverley and forward Terrence Jones.won't play for the Rockets.
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