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.

Posts about Wolves guards

Kudos for the Wolves backcourt

Posted by: Kent Youngblood Updated: December 4, 2012 - 9:41 PM

 I can’t remember the last time I watched a Wolves game when the backcourt, from start to finish, played better.  Maybe back in the 2003-04 season, when Sammy Cassell was rolling and Troy Hudson, though usually hurt, had an occasional strong game.

Malcom Lee didn’t miss a shot, didn’t turn the ball over and had an assist and 10 points. Luke Ridnour had 10 points and four assists. And then there was J.J. Barea and Alexey Shved. Barea had his first double-double of the season and Shved hit four of seven three-pointers on the way to a team-high 17 points.

The Wolves won easily, on the road against a winning team, on a night when Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic combined to shoot 5-for-17. It’s nights like this that makes you wonder how good this team can be once Ricky Rubio is back. Not to mention Andrei Kirilenko, who stayed home with back spasms.

“Malcolm and Luke got us going,” Wolves coach Rick Adelman said. “Then J.J. and Alexey were great.”

That about sums this one up. Here are some other observations from tonight’s action:

 

--I think the fact that four of the five Wolves starters didn’t play in the fourth quarter will help the team tomorrow in Boston.

--I think Love, whose double-double streak ended at six after he shot 2-for-10, will have a bigger night Wednesday playing against Kevin Garnett.

--Josh Howard continues to improve as he gets his legs under him. He played a season-high 29:01, got his first double-double since April 10, 2009 and hit on seven of 12 shots {two of three three-pointers).

 

That’s about it for now. I’ll get back at you prior to Wednesday’s game with Boston. Have a good night. 

Lee returns to the lineup

Posted by: Kent Youngblood Updated: December 4, 2012 - 11:49 AM

    PHILADELPHIA -- Malcolm Lee, who sat out the Timberwolves’ victory over Milwaukee Friday with a groin injury, is healthy and should start at the shooting guard spot tonight against Philadelphia.

 

 That would mean J.J. Barea would return to his position as coming off the bench to lead the second unit at point guard. It also gives coach Rick Adelman another good perimeter defensive player.

 Lee said he’l l have to monitor the injury going forward. “I think it happened because I got a contusion in one of the games, and I started compensating,” he said after Tuesday’s morning shootaround. “And that’s how I pulled {the groin muscle}.”

 With all the injuries, Lee has started about half of the team’s games this season. And while he’s still looking to become a regular contributor on the offensive end, his defense is something Adelman can rely on – and something Lee takes pride in. Night after night he is defending at one of the most difficult positions on the court.

 “Every game they give us a scouting report on tendencies,” Lee said. “I Just like to go over that and watch some film on it, know what they like to do. But I pretty much guard everybody the same – force them to their weak side -- and I try to body them. I don’t like to give them room.”

  

Here are some other items from today’s pre-game shoot:

 --The bug that hit Kevin Love proved to be a bit more tenacious than he expected. Love said he lost nearly 10 pounds during the process. He said he’s only been able to keep food down for the last 24 hours and didn’t get his appetite back until this morning.

 But Love – who missed the first part of the season with broken bones in his right hand – said he was finally able to return to the weight room for the first time on Monday. Now it’s a matter of getting his weight back up and his strength back. He’s not there yet.

 “It felt good to get back in the weight room after a six- or seven-week absence,” he said. “The hand needs to get there, I need to get my legs back under me. Hopefully, in a couple weeks, I won’t have to talk about that any more, I’ll be back in my rhythm.”

 --J.J. Barea said his left mid-foot sprain is still not 100 percent, and that it affects him every time he pushes off the foot to make a move or to attack the basket. “It lets me play,” he said. “Hopefully I’ll get there in the next couple weeks,” he said. “I think it’s improving, maybe a little bit at a time, but it’s slow. I’m waking up every day feeling a little better.”

 --Wolves’ president of basketball operations David Kahn was asked if the team would consider a brief stint in the NBA Development League as a part of Ricky Rubio’s return from knee surgery. “We haven’t talked about it yet internally,” he said. “It hasn’t even been broached.’’

 

 

Shved, defense the keys in Wolves victory

Posted by: Kent Youngblood Updated: November 30, 2012 - 10:39 PM

  

The Wolves’ victory over Milwaukee Friday was not pretty, but there were some attractive signs of improved team play. Consider:

 

--The Wolves, even with Andrei Kirilenko (back) our and Kevin Love (flu) ailing, had a season-high 56 rebounds.

--A Wolves team that had been victimized by backcourts much of the season did a wonderful job on Milwaukee’s tandem of Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings, forcing that duo to take 41 shots in order to score 36 points.

--The Wolves played so well defensively they were able to go for six-plus minutes without a score in the third quarter and never lose their lead.

 

And then there was Alexey Shved. A rookie in name only, he continues to show a mettle that allows him to play well in tough situations. Friday he had 10 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter, keying a huge 11-0 run that turned a one-point game into a breeze for the Wolves, who have now won two of their last three games.

 

Shved has now scored in double figures in consecutive games, and has scored 84 of his 156 points this season in the fourth quarters of games.

 

I know this is not necessarily news, but I can hardly wait to see Shved and Ricky Rubio playing together.  “He’s one of those guys, he has the same face, down 20, up 20, tie game,” J.J. Barea said. “He’ll always play the game the same way.”

 

Friday Shved hit two three-pointers in the fourth quarter – one from downtown with the shot clock about to run out – and made two very nice passes.

 

 

Other impressions:

--In a statistical oddity, the Bucks got a triple-double out of backup forward Larry Sanders, who tied a Bucks franchise record with 10 blocks to go with his 10 points and 12 rebounds. The Wolves went at him all night and he blocked shots in droves. But it wasn’t enough to stop an ailing Kevin Love (15 points, 14 boards) and center Nikola Pekovic (14-16) to combined for 29 points and 30 of the team’s season-high 56 rebounds.

--Ridnour scored 7 of his points in the fourth quarter on 2-for-4 shooting from the field and three free throws.

--Wolves guards Ridnour, Shved and Barea combined to shoot 17-for-32, score 47 points and dish out 12 assists.

 

That’s about it for now. The Wolves are not practicing Saturday, so Rubio’s first full-contact practice will come Sunday. Jerry Zgoda will be on hand to  bring you the news from that practice.

 

Have a good night. 

Rubio cleared to practice

Posted by: Kent Youngblood Updated: November 28, 2012 - 5:11 PM

Ricky Rubio has been cleared to practice, the Wolves announced this afternoon.

No word on when Rubio might return to games, but it could be next week. The Wolves play host to Milwaukee on Friday night, then have three off days.

Here is the team's release:

Minneapolis/St. Paul – The Minnesota Timberwolves today announced that guard Ricky Rubio has been cleared to participate in full-contact practices with no limitations after consultation with Dr. Richard Steadman in Vail, Colorado.

With the final medical hurdle being cleared, Rubio will now practice with the team. Rubio and the Wolves medical staff will assess his ability to participate in an NBA game after monitoring his progress during these practices.

Rubio had surgery on March 21, 2012 to reconstruct a torn ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) and a torn LCL (lateral collateral ligament) in his left knee. The surgery was performed by Dr. Steadman at The Steadman Clinic in Vail. Rubio's injury occurred with 16 seconds remaining in the Timberwolves game vs. the L.A. Lakers on March 9, 2012.

Rubio, acquired by Minnesota with the fifth overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, appeared in 41 games (31 starts) for the Wolves during his rookie season, averaging 10.6 points, 4.2 rebounds, 8.2 assists and 2.22 steals. He compiled 12 point/assist double-doubles and dished out 10+ assists on 15 occasions. At the time of his injury, Rubio ranked 3rd in the NBA in steals and 5th in assists.

It's official: Ellington-for-Cunningham trade is final

Posted by: Jerry Zgoda Updated: July 24, 2012 - 4:20 PM

That Wolves trade that has been in the works for days and days -- shooting guard Wayne Ellington to Memphis for forward Dante Cunningham -- will finally be official later today.

The Wolves are dealing away a 2009 first-round draft pick (28th overall) who was only going to see playing time this season if there were many injuries and getting back a guy who plays both forward spots and is active on defense.

Both players make almost exactly the same salary -- a little more than $2 million a season -- but the deal gives the Grizzlies another shooter and gives the Wolves a needed forward for a team that has added guards Brandon Roy and Alexey Shved but lost Michael Beasley, Anthony Randolph and quite possibly Anthony Tolliver from the frontcourt.

Portland drafted Cunningham 33rd overall out of Villanova in 2009 -- third pick in the second round, five picks after the Wolves took Ellington -- and traded him to Charlotte in February 2011. He signed as a restricted free agent just before the start of last season.

The Wolves also could officially announce their first free-agent signing -- Shved's -- as soon as Wednesday.

The others, including Boston center Greg Stiemsma, might not come until the Wolves line up any other moves in case they want to fit one signing into an salary-cap exception slot.

 

 

 

 

 

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