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.
Greetings for a final time from San Antonio, where the Wolves took a big step backward in a one-sided loss to the Spurs.
What an up and down season, as far as effort goes. Wolves coach Flip Saunders ripped the teams effort in a loss to Philly, and his guys respond with a strong effort in Friday’s overtime loss to Houston.
And then this?
The Spurs were resting two starters and played Tim Duncan only 18-plus minutes. And yet the Spurs basically cruised after a run to end the first quarter.
“You play that way against Houston, and you come in here today? … That’s what’s disappointing.”
Here are some nuggets from tonight’s game.
--Zach LaVine became the fourth teenager to have a 20-point, 10-assist night in the NBA. LeBron James did it (eight times), as did Stephon Marbury (three times) as well as a fellow named Dejuan Wagner. And yet Saunders was in no mood to give anyone compliments. “Somebody’s going to score, even when you’re playing bad,” he said.
--The only players Saunders gave even a little praise to was Shabazz Muhammad, who scored 20 points in 21-plus minutes of playing time, and Anthony Bennett, who had 14 points and 10 rebounds.
--Saunders said teams have taken to playing very physically against Andrew Wiggins, and the rookie has yet to respond. Tonight Kawhi Leonard was all over Wiggins, who scored six points on 3-for-13 shooting.
--Glen Robinson made his first three-pointer ever tonight. He scored 7 minutes in 12 minutes of playing time.
That’s about it. The team flew home after the game, will have Sunday off and get back at it Monday. We’ll see how they respond. Have a good night, and a good rest of your weekend.
By Rachel Blount
Greetings from Target Center after the Wolves’ 114-112 overtime loss to Houston. After Wednesday’s stinker against Philadelphia, the Wolves rebounded with a good effort, though they were doomed by sketchy execution late in the game.
The mantra this week has been to forget about the loss to 0-17 Philly and move forward. That task was made more complicated Friday when Mo Williams sat out because of back spasms, further decimating the roster. But the Wolves played hard throughout the game and got nice performances from a host of players, including Shabazz Muhammad (20 points on 8-of-15 shooting), Zach LaVine (17 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter), Thad Young (19 points), Gorgui Dieng (15 points on 6-of-9 shooting, six rebounds, three steals) and Corey Brewer (15 points, seven rebounds, six assists and three blocked shots).
Coach Flip Saunders appreciated the Wolves’ ability to distance themselves from the Philadelphia debacle, but he wasn’t letting them off the hook for their mistakes. They rallied from 13 points down with 5:26 to go and led 105-101 after an Andrew Wiggins dunk with 58.2 seconds left. But Donatas Motiejunas’ short jumper made it 105-103--and then LaVine, who had been going strong to the basket, missed on a 22-footer. Dieng fouled Motiejunas with 15 seconds left, and his free throws sent it to overtime.
LaVine also missed a three-pointer in overtime with the score tied at 110 and 1:10 to go. Saunders wasn’t thrilled with his shot selection or with his defensive lapse in overtime, when Nick Johnson got past him to drive to the hoop for the winning layup with 0.8 seconds left. Nor was he happy about the late fouls in the fourth quarter and overtime.
“Zach had some great moments, and down the stretch, you hope he’ll be able to control things,’’ Saunders said. “He had a couple ill-advised shots. If you’re going to shoot, shoot it right away, but we didn’t need threes at the time.
“The disappointing thing, more than anything else, is (Houston) won the game from the free-throw line. At the end of the game when we’re up by two, (Dieng) fouls (Motiejunas) when he puts the ball on the floor away from the basket, and they get two free throws. And, of course, when Thad fouls (Jason Terry) at the end (with 25 seconds left in overtime, when Terry hit both foul shots to put Houston up 112-110).’’
Saunders said earlier Friday that the young Wolves need to learn to play outside their comfort zones, a step he said is necessary for their development. Friday’s mistakes were part of that process. With inexperienced players in new roles, getting more minutes than they’re used to, Saunders said they still are learning how to respond in a variety of situations. Sometimes, that means they don’t see all the options available; sometimes, they don’t understand how to handle a scenario they haven’t faced as an NBA player.
That was particularly true of LaVine, who also had six rebounds and four assists in 34:55 of playing time. “It was a development night (for LaVine),’’ Saunders said. “He did some good things and some things that weren’t as good. He’s in a tough situation. He played a lot of minutes, and he’s not used to it. It’s a learning process.’’
Asked about his shot selection, LaVine wasn’t shy. “They could have been some questionable shots, but I’m a confident dude,’’ he said. “I feel like I can make that stuff. Coach may have different opinions on that, but I feel like I’m a confident person on my shot.’’
LaVine also said he feels “a lot more comfortable’’ and sees improvement in the team. “You can see how we’re getting better,’’ he said. “We’re just trying to get it clicking, man. I feel like we’re going to be really good.’’
Some random stats:
--The Wolves’ 66 points in the paint were a season high. They outscored Houston 66-40 in the paint, including 16-6 in the fourth quarter.
--The Wolves outrebounded Houston 43-42, including a 14-7 advantage on the offensive boards.
And one random quote from Houston coach Kevin McHale:
“They played harder than we did tonight. I knew they were going to play hard after that Philadelphia loss. … I’ll give them credit. Embarrassing as it was to lose to Philadelphia and all the other crap, Flip got them going, and he had them playing hard. We just got lucky to win.’’
Well, that was ugly, wasn’t it?
Greetings from Target Center for a final time tonight, following an 85-77 loss to the previously winless 76ers in a game Philadelphia ended on a 12-2 run.
The Wolves set or matched season lows with first quarter points, first half points, total points and shooting percentage. What makes it worse is that Philadelphia played nearly as badly. But, at least, they played hard. Harder than the Wolves, anyway.
Here are some thoughts on the game:
--So who came with the right attitude to play? Mo Williams, for one. He didn’t play well, but that’s because he had a very sore back. But, according to coach Flip Saunders, he insisted on playing because he didn’t want the Wolves to lose to Philadelphia. After that? Gorgui Dieng, perhaps, who had a 15-point, 16-rebound game. After that, I just don’t know.
--After the game Saunders pledged to sit players who didn’t play hard, or players who continued to make the same mistakes over and over again. It won’t be easy, given the team’s injury situation. But Saunders sounded like a coach who’d just about had it after this loss. Tonight Anthony Bennett was benched after playing just 3½ minutes. So it has already began.
--Check out these shooting numbers for the Wolves starters: Wiggins 4-for-12, Young 6-for-16, Corey Brewer 3-for-11, Williams 5-for-14. Only Dieng (6-for-12) reached 50 percent.
--Four of the five Wolves starters had four or more turnovers.
--The Wolves had more turnovers (19) than assists (17).
That’s about it for now. From the sounds of it, Saunders promised a rather intense practice Thursday. I’ll get back to you after it’s over with an update. Have a good rest of your evening.
Greetings for a final time from Target Center, where the Wolves played the Bucks even for three-plus quarters before collapsing in the fourth.
--The Wolves better hope Mo Williams is better by the time the Wolves play the Lakers on Friday. Zach LaVine had to play nearly 37 minutes tonight, and it wasn’t very pretty watching Andrew Wiggins or Corey Brewer trying to initiate the Wolves offense when LaVine was out.
LaVine had 12 points and four assists. But he made nearly as many mistakes as he did big plays, though I thought he played a little better than might have been expected. His biggest problem came down the stretch when Bucks point guard Brandon Knight took the game over.
--For all of you wondering why Shabazz Muhammad isn’t getting more minutes? He has to learn the offense better, according to Wolves coach Flip Saunders. Muhammad brought great energy tonight, scoring 13 points in 16 minutes of playing time. But, after the game, Saunders said Muhammad needs to learn the plays better so he’s in the right place more often. That isn’t as much of a problem when there is a veteran point guard on the floor to help him get there. But it was a problem, at times, tonight.
--After the game Thaddeus Young, who played for the first time in six games, admitted there was some rust to be shaken off his game. Young, who missed five games after the death of his mother, made one of 10 shots tonight for three points.
--The Wolves got to the line 34 times tonight, but missed 13 of them. Saunders said that was an indication of how tight his young players were, given the strains the injuries and illnesses have put on the team.
--I know I’ve said it before, but I love how hard Corey Brewer plays. He had a season-high 19 points tonight, along with six rebounds, three assists and three steals. Unfortunately he also had seven turnovers, the result of asking a forward to play point guard.
That’s about all for now. I hope you all have a great Thanksgiving.
Greeting from Target Center for the final time tonight.
I just got through writing my game story off this 113-101 loss. It was, as you’d expect, Andrew Wiggins-heavy.
What a night he had. He got more aggressive and more efficient as the night went on. The Wolves were determined to get him going, calling more plays for him, probably, than any game this season. And he responded. He had 29 points, 20 in the second half, 11 in the fourth quarter.
It was the highest-scoring game by an NBA rookie this season.
Here are some other thoughts on tonight’s game:
--Gorgui Dieng was the worse for wear tonight after playing against DeMarcus Cousins. But the kid is game. Dieng had a double-double of his own and four of his 10 rebounds were on the offensive end. He also had two blocks.
--This was likely Chase Budinger’s best game of the season. He scored 11 points on 3-for-6 shooting and made both of his three-pointers.
--As I’ve said many times before, I love the energy Corey Brewer brings. It’s not always pretty, but he plays hard all the time. He had 14 points, four assists and a steal tonight. And he also had a very nice moment. In the final minute of a game already decided, Brewer made a steal. He had a free run for a basket of his own, but he instead fed Wiggins for a dunk, the rookie’s final basket of the night.
--The Wolves were whistled for two technical fouls tonight. Flip Saunders got one and Brewer got one. The Wolves felt they weren’t getting calls tonight. After the game Saunders said he felt Wiggins deserved more calls than he got. “I guess our guys have to start complaining a little bit more,” Saunders said. “Except, maybe, for me and Corey. We didn’t get many calls.”
That’s about it for now. The Wolves will not practice again until Monday. Have a good rest of your weekend.
|Vikings (12)||Wolves news (1032)|
|Bears (2)||Lions (1)|
|Packers (3)||Super Bowl (2)|
|Injury report (2)||On the road (54)|
|Rookies (36)||Roster moves (3)|
|Vikings draft (41)||Vikings trade talk (2)|
|NBA playoffs (1)||Wolves coaches (80)|
|Wolves draft news (58)||Wolves guards (45)|
|Wolves injury report (374)||Wolves management (142)|
|Wolves players (564)||Wolves postgame (305)|
|Wolves practice news (173)||Wolves pre-game (431)|
|Wolves trade talk (87)||Wolves training camp (63)|
|Adrian Peterson (3)||Sidney Rice (2)|