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.
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."
We'll get an idea how mature these young-ish Wolves are by the end of tonight's game at Orlando.
We'll see if they can handle a little success.
That success is a 2-2 record that included Wednesday's comeback victory at Brooklyn. Now they've got a game that's eminently winnable, the first night of back-to-back games that take them to Miami Saturday night.
We'll also see how Flip Saunders manages minutes in back-to-back games.
Saunders said he'll coach the game as he normally does and then make adjustments with minutes and rotations in Miami if he needs to do so.
He said the 32 minutes Nikola Pekovic played in Wednesday's dominant performance over Brook Lopez "might be a little high even," but he said the game's moderate pace allowed him to play Pekovic that much.
"It was a slower game," Saunders said. "He didn't have to get up and down the floor as much."
He said he'll play Gorgui Dieng more minutes Saturday if he has to.
He also might call upon Ronny Turiaf that night to play for the first time this season. Turiaf is inactive again tonigjht -- along with Glenn Robinson III -- even though he looked pretty ready to play duriing Thursday's scrimmages in Orlando.
The Wolves begin a six-game trip that takes them all the way to Mexico City next week and back again tonight at Brooklyn.
It'll reunite Wolves coach Flip Saunders, Sam Mitchell and Sidney Lowe with Nets star Kevin Garnett, whom Saunders and Lowe coached and with whom Mitchell played long ago.
"I'm excited to coach against him tonight," Saunders said before the game. "I'll always have a soft spot. I had him when he was 18 years old. Sam was with us. We've had a huge part in seeing develop as a player, seen him become Da Kid and eventually The Man.'"
Tonight's game also puts together on opposite sidelines Saunders and new Nets coach Lionel Hollins.
Saunders interviewed Hollins for the Wolves' open job last April, but conversations didn't go much further than that.
Saunders said Kevin Love's uncertain future affected his decision not to pursue Hollins any further.
"It was just an interview," Hollins said. "They hired somebody else. That's where it went."
Saunders, of course, ended up hiring himself for the job.
One more thing:
Thad Young is set to start tonight game, four nights after he got knocked out of Saturday's game when he was elbowed in the head. He said this morning he's fine and ready to play.
The Wolves' only injury concern is Ronny Turiaf's still sore hip. He's inactive tonight but Saunders said he was hopeful Turiaf will be available in the coming games at Orlando and Miami.
Wolves guard Kevin Martin has been fined $15,000 for making an obscene gesture during the Wolves’ one-point loss to the Bulls Saturday at Target Center.
The gesture came with 1:37 left in the game, shortly after Martin had made a three-point shot to give the Wolves a two-point lead, which prompted a Chicago time out.
The announcement was made today by Rod Thorn, the NBA’s president of basketball operations.
Here is a link so you can see it for yourself: http://i.imgur.com/n3LNqBS.gif
The Wolves held a brisk practice – one that ended early – before heading out to Memphis for tomorrow’s season opener.
Coach Flip Saunders is still being cagey about who will be the starter at small forward; his standard response the last two days has been, “We’ll wait and see.” I’m not sure it really matters who starts – Andrew Wiggins or Corey Brewer. Because both are going to get significant minutes.
Here are some other tidbits from Saunders today:
--Saunders said he’s confident fans will see a more confident Gorgui Dieng this season. Especially on the offensive end. “He’s more confident in what he’s doing,” Saunders said. “He’s a little more assertive offensively. He’s just going to look more comfortable when he’s out there. The leap [from the first season to the second season] is astronomical.’’
--Because of his confidence in Dieng, Saunders reiterated his pledge to keep Nikola Pekovic’s minutes down, both the total number of minutes played in a game and how long his in-game stints will be.
--Saunders said he has not decided exactly what path Glenn Robinson’s development will take. Specifically, how much time the rookie forward will spend in the development league. The problem? The Wolves are one of 13 teams that will use the Fort Wayne (Ind.) Mad Ants as their D-League affiliate. So guaranteed playing time for a player going to Fort Wayne might be hard to get. “You don’t want him to go down where he might not play,” Saunders said. “If we find situations where it’s conducive for him to do that we’ll utilize that. If not, he’ll be able to practice with our people, our guys.”
That’s about it for now. Jerry will be with the team in Memphis tomorrow.
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