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.
The Wolves' issues with their second unit just got more complicated: Derrick Williams will not play tonight against Dallas at Target Center because of back spasms.
Williams' absence takes away scoring from a second unit that already is struggling in that area. Backup center Ronny Turiaf is out injured, shooting guard Alexey Shved hasn't played well at all so far and other teams are hounding J.J. Barea because he's the best -- and maybe now only real -- scoring option for the reserves.
Let's see if tonight is the night you finally get a good look at Robbie Hummel or Shabazz Muhammad in something more than clean-up time.
Wolves forward Kevin Love’s big week was rewarded by the league Monday.
Love was named the Western Conference player of the week -- the first such honor of his career -- for games played from opening day through Sunday.
He deserved it. After three games – all Wolves victories – Love leads the NBA in scoring (29.7 ppg) and is second in rebounds (14.7 rpg), free throws made (31) and free throws attempted (39). He has had a double-double in each of his games, increasing his total to 121 in his last 135 games.
Love had 31 points and 17 boards in a season-opening victory over Orlando, including a three-pointer with 10.1 seconds left that forced overtime. He had 24 points and 12 rebounds in a victory over Oklahoma City Friday, then had 34 points and 15 rebounds in Sunday’s victory over New York at Madison Square Garden. It was his fourth straight game of 30 or more points and 15 or more boards against the Knicks. By doing so Love joined Shaquille O’Neal as the second player since 1985-86 to record four straight 30/15 games against one opponent.
Love became the sixth different Wolves player in franchise history to win the award.
Philadelphia’s Michael Carter-Williams was named the Eastern Conference player of the week.
Ricky Rubio arrives at Madison Square Garden a starter and feeling fine tonight for the first time in his three NBA seasons.
The Wolves didn't play there during his rookie season, when the NBA lockout shortened the season to 66 games and created an uneven schedule.
Last season, he was just in his first week back from knee surgery when the Wolves visited just before Christmas.
Kevin Love missed that game, too.
Now both are back and presumably ready."Last year I wasn't myself, coming back from an injury, four or five games in," Rubio said. "I was feeling good but my knee wasn't ready. Now I feel pretty good."
The Wolves are playing without injured backup center Ronny Turiaf, who broke his elbow Friday night against Oklahoma City. Rookie Gorgui Dieng will get most of his minutes tonight.
Knicks star Amare Stoudemire won't play in his measured return from injury and J.R. Smith still is serving a season-opening league suspension.
The Wolves are going for their just the second 3-0 start in team history. The only other Wolves team to do so was the 2001-02 team that started 6-0.
An MRI performed Saturday morning revealed a radial head fracture in backup center Ronny Turiaf’s right elbow. Turiaf will be re-evaluated next week to determine an approximate timetable for his return.
Turiaf was injured at the 10:17 mark of the second quarter of Friday's victory over Oklahame City when, off-balance, he crashed to the floor.
The good news is that surgery will not be needed. But Turiaf is likely out at least a few weeks.
And that will force Wolves coach Rick Adelman to shuffle some things in his rotation.
“Obviously G will get his chance,” Adelman said of rookie center Gorgui Dieng, who was drafted by the Wolves with the 21st overall pick in the 2013 draft.
The post position, which looked so deep just a few days ago, is less so now. Turiaf, a vocal leader, was a valuable defender off the bench at the center position.
Now Adelman will have to use Dieng to back up starter Nikola Pekovic. Adelman said he will also slide Kevin Love into the five position more often as well, though he wants to avoid doing it too much.
“We don’t want to do that as a consistent thing,” Adelman said. “I like doing it at the end of games, because it forces (the opponent’s) hand. Plus, you don’t want him playing against guys who are going to attack him in the post. It’s not his strong suit. … Hopefully Pak and G can do it. G was a little nervous (Friday) night. But he’s played and he’s done a decent job. I think the more he plays the better he’ll be.’’
Dieng got his first action of the regular season in the Wolves’ one-sided victory Friday. He played 14½ minutes. He missed the only shot he took, was 0-for-4 from the free throw line and committed four fouls.
Adelman can also use Dante Cunningham in spots against teams fielding small lineups.
Oklahoma City and superstar Kevin Durant are in town for tonight's game against the Wolves at Target Center.
At shootaround today, Durant talked about coming back to the NBA arena that was something of his home away from home last summer.
Durant attended at least two Lynx games to watch his fiance, Lynx guard Monica Wright.
"Yeah, I did, I spent a lot of time here so I've got some people coming to the game," he said. "I feel Iike I'm a part of the city a little bit."
Durant also worked out with Wolves star Kevin Love in Los Angeles last summer because they share the same basketball-skills coach, Rob McClanaghan.
"We have the same trainer and I've been knowing Kevin since I was 14 years old," Durant said. "We just worked on everything. He's a great guy to work out with because he's so competitive and he's always wanting to get things right. I learned a lot."
Durant was asked if Love seemed to have an edge about him last summer after he missed all but 18 games a year ago because of a hand he broke not once, but twice.
"He just wanted to play, being injured the whole season," Durant said. "A freak accident, he just wanted to play. I could tell he was anxious to get back. I'm glad he's on the court. As a guy who likes Kevin as a person, I'm glad he's back playing the game he loves. He's playing well."
Durant tonight will face former teammate Kevin Martin, with whom he played last season.
"We miss having him around, just his attitude, his demeanor," Durant said. "He set a good example for the young guys. It's going to be fun playing against him."
The Thunder are playing without All Star guard Russell Westbrook, who is missng the season's opening weeks because of knee surgery complications from last spring much like Chase Budinger is having.
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