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.
Both teams will be without their starting centers when the Wolves finish this quick Texas two-step trip tonight in Houston.
Wolves center Nikola Pekovic remains out -- for the third consecutive game -- because of that hurting right ankle that has bothered him since late January.
Rockets star Dwight Howard will miss his second consecutive game because of an ankle as well.
He had part of a cyst removed and fluid drained from his on Wednesday.
Rick Adelman was asked before tonight's game if Pek for DH-12 is a fair swap.
"I don't know about Dwight," he said. "I know Pek hurts us. I'm sure he hurts them, too."
Gorgui Dieng will start again for the Wolves and Omer Asik will start for Howard.
Wolves starting center Nikola Pekovic will miss his second consecutive game -- tonight at Dallas -- because his right ankle remains too sore for him to play.
He is not expected to play tomorrow either in Houston against a Rockets team that will be without All-Star Dwight Howard.
Pekovic hasn't run on that ankle since leaving Friday's game at Charlotte in the third quarter.
Rookie Gorgui Dieng will start in his absence tonight instead for the second straight game after getting his first NBA start on Sunday against Sacramento.
Howard had part of a cyst and fluid drained from his ankle on Wednesday and he told Houston Chronicle beat writer Jonathan Feigen he will not play until Saturday at the earliest.
Howard didn't play in Monday's home victory over Utah. Until then, he had been the only Rocket who played in every game this season.
Just in case you've ever wondered where David Kahn has gone since his contact wasn't renewed last spring and Flip Saunders was hired as the new president of basketball operations...
Here's part of the answer in his new life as a New York University lecturer:
I just wish I had a spare weekend (Wolves are at Miami and Orlando) and an extra $750 because I'm sure it'd be fascinating.
You want the good news or the bad news first?
Let's go bad news:
Nikola Pekovic will not play for the Wolves tonight against Sacramento because of that hurting right ankle/foot that caused him to leave Friday's game at Charlotte early in the third quarter.
He said before tonight's game that it remained too painful to really test it out Saturday or Sunday and he is hopeful two consecutive days off before the Wolves play again on Wednesday at Dallas will allow it to settle down.
Rick Adelman said rookie Gorgui Dieng will start in Pekovic's place against Kings star center DeMarcus Cousins before we learned the good news for the Wolves...
Cousins is out too, sidelined for this final game of the Kings' long seven-game road trip by right knee tendinitis.
The Wolves would have gone small with Dante Cunningham in the starting lineup instead if the Kings started Jason Thompson at "center" but Sacramento instead will go with 7-foot Aaron Gray, which means Dieng will indeed get his first NBA start.
Toronto makes its only Target Center visit this season tongiht and will be without reserve forward Patrick Patterson, who is a late scratch because of a sprained elbow.
Patterson re-aggravated an elbow he had hurt in the past week during Friday's home victory over Sacramento.
His absence will hurt the Raptors' depth -- which has been the foundation of their 27-13 turnaround since they traded star Rudy Gay to the Kings in December for Patterson and three other bench players -- as well as take away a key defender they intended to use on Kevin Love.
Without him, the Raptors will have to rely on veterans Chuck Hayes (one of those four players acquired in the trade), Steve Novak and Tyler Hansbrough.
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