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.
LeBron James is warming up before tonight's game against the Wolves at Target Center intending to play, Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said.
James came down wrong on his knee in Sunday's comeback victory at New York but played on anyone.
He had a doctor look at the knee earlier on Monday but Spoelstra and teammate Chris Bosh both expected he'll play.
"His leg would probably have to fall off for him to miss a game," Bosh said.
At last check, James appeared to have both legs intact tonight.
The Wolves, meanwhile, will continue to play without starters Andrei Kirilenko and Nikola Pekovic, both of whom remain out tonight.
(And, yes, of course, Kevin Love remains out, too).
Wolves coach Rick Adelman said Pekovic's MRI taken of an abdominal strain on Monday didn't show any structural damage, but both he and Kirilenko (strained calf) still were experencing soreness Monday with no indication when exactly either will return.
The Wolves again will start Mickael Gelabale at small forward and Greg Stiemsma at center.
The Wolves are down to nine healthy guys once again now that starters Andrei Kirilenko and Nikola Pekovic both are out for tonight's game at Portland.
Greg Stiemsma will replace Pekovic at center after big Pek sustained an abdominal strain on Thursday in Los Angeles at the Lakers.
And Mickael Gelabale will start at small forward for Kirilenko, who remains out because of a strained calf.
Meanwhile, Brandon Roy met with media before the game, his first back at the Rose Garden accompanying the Wolves even though he won't play.
He said he got excited just flying back into Portland with the team yesterday and said he hopes to resume practicing with the team when it returns from this three-game trip and still hopes he can play some when injured Kevin Love and Chase Budinger return for the final weeks of the season.
He stayed at his Portland home Friday night.
"Just going back home brings back memories of some really special nights here in the Rose Garden," Roy said. "I have so many memories from my very first season right up until my last that I forget things that people remind about. Like, `Oh, yeah, that was a big moment.' That's what you want coming into this league, to create memories.
"I have a lot of special ones, especially in this building."
Roy said he remains hoepful he can still salvage something from this season.
"I don't know, I'm not sure," Roy said when asked what kind of player he hopes he can return to. "I wouldn't know how to answer that. As long as I can play and not in too much pain, I'll be happy with that."
The Wolves will play on tonight in Los Angeles against the Lakers without Andrei Kirilenko.
He's out with that strained calf sustained in Tuesday's 84-83 overtime loss at Phoenix.
This injury follows those back spasms in November and a strained quad just before the All-Star break. Add 'em all together and Kirilenko says if this were Russia, he'd probably go to church and light a candle for himself.
What the heck, it couldn't hurt for this Wolves team, could it?
His absence proves particularly troublesome tonight because it leaves Rick Adelman without one more option to defend Kobe Bryant, who is both scoring (35.7 ppg) and distributing (6.7 assists).
Now he'll have to depend on Mickael Gelabale or ask Alexey Shved or Luke Ridnour to defend him.
A couple other things following this morning's shootaround at the Clippers practice facility:
* Brandon Roy says he plans to sit behind the bench for Saturday's game at Portland, his first return to the arena where he played his first five NBA seasons.
"I don't know how I feel because I'm not playing," he said. "It'll be different."
* Derrick Williams might not be a changed man coming back home to L.A. this time, but he is different.
He is averaging 18.8 points and 10.6 rebounds in his last five games and has earned enough trust from Rick Adelman that Adelman designed Tuesday's final play with him in mind (it was drawn up with options for both Williams and Shved, who got to the basket but missed the game-winning shot.)
"Just more confidence," Williams said.
* Tonight's game is the last of three TNT appearances for the Wolves. Marv Albert, Mike Fratello and Craig Sager will work the telecast.
The Timberwolves have moved on, to an injury-filled season that once again won't turn out like they hoped it would.
Former Wolves Michael Beasley and Wes Johnson have moved on as well, to seasons here in Phoenix that also have not turned out like they hoped.
Each played just three minutes in Sunday's home loss to San Antonio.
"Building up to it," Beasley said about trying to establish his NBA career now with his third team in his fifth NBA season. "I feel like it's kind of starting over for me, trying to build up to what I believe in my heart I can do. But like I said, it's going to be baby steps. I still got a lot of learning to do."
He signed a three-year, $18 million free-agent deal with the Suns last summer, but the same problems he had in Minnesota have followed him here: Short attention span, little attention to defense and, as in Minnesota in June 2011, was cited for violations in a late-traffic stop for speeding in Scottsdale last month.
He was cited for driving with a suspended license and expired registration, driving with excessive speed and failure to display a license plate on the back of his vehicle.
I asked him after shootaround this morning if he missed Minnesota.
"Minnesota is a great city," he said. "I do miss the city. It's a nice organization. Do I miss it? Probably not. I try to make my own way, put my past behind me. But I do miss some people there."
He sold off a bunch of his stuff at an estate sale at his rented Orono home last summer before moving to Phoenix, and it made news for some of the odd stuff on sale.
He said a good bit of it was brought in by the company that ran the sale.
"A lot of that stuff wasn't mine, like purses and earrings and stuff," he said. "That kind of messed up my street cred. I'm a gangster on the street. That kind of altered it. I moved out and I had some stuff that wouldn't fit in my house here so we just sold it. A lot of the furniture was mine. The dresses and purses? Not mine."
Some other stuff from today and about tonight's game:
* Brandon Roy and Kevin Love both made the three-game trip with the team.
Before you read too much into Roy's presence, what with the trip ending up Saturday night in Portland...
There's no sign he's been practicing, no sign any return is anywhere near in sight...and there's no indication whether he will appear with the team on the bench during Saturday's game at the Rose Garden, where he hasn't played since spring 2011.
* Wolves coach Rick Adelman flew in on game day a couple times in the last month so he could spend an extra day with his wife Mary Kay. This time, he brought her along on the trip. The pair strolled the streets of downtown Phoenix together this afternoon after the team's morning shootaround.
* Derrick Williams took teammates J.J. Barea, Greg Stiemsma and Ricky Rubio to Tucson Monday evening after the team landed in Phoenix and all four made an appearance at the new sneaker/apparel shop he opened there.
"Around the block," he said about the crowd the appearances drew.
Wolves forward Kevin Love said he is still pointed towards a return that would allow him to play in “15 to 20 games’’ this season. If that is the case, that would mean a mid- to late-March return. He is going to have a checkup with the surgeon either late in the first week of March or early in the second week.
Love fractured the third metacarpal in his right hand Jan. 3 at Denver. It was the second time he had sustained such a break, the first coming during the preseason when he broke two bones doing knuckle pushups at his home.
The first time Love did not have surgery. He missed the Wolves’ first nine games, returning Nov. 21 against Denver.
Love said his hand feels better at the same point of rehab than it did the first time. Indeed, he said, he probably should have had surgery the first time around. “In hindsight, yes,” he said. “But the doctor said I didn’t necessarily need it. This time it was a clean break.”
But his range of motion is better, as is the hand’s strength, compared with the first time. He is lifting weights and working on range of motion. There is still some swelling in his hand, as well as scar tissue he said needs to be worked out. But he expects to comeback better this time, he said, especially when it comes to his shot, which was a problem in his first return from the injury.
“It’s progressively getting stronger,” Love said. “With the weights and with everything I’m doing to improve range of motion. Hopefully I’ll shoot the ball better this time.”
As for his return? He doesn’t have a specific date yet. He’ll know more after he sees the doctor. But he did say it was very important for him to play as much as he can this season, both for himself at the team. Both Love and forward Chase Budinger, who is coming back from knee surgery, are expected back in March.
“It’s very important,” he said of playing this season. “Just to get back with the full team, Chase included. Having a full roster, that’s the biggest thing for us.”
Meanwhile, it’s the same starting five for the Wolves today – Nikola Pekovic, Ricky Rubio, Luke Ridnour, Derrick Williams and Andrei Kirilenko. They will be taking on a Golden State team that appears to have righted the ship, winning twice in a row after a six-game losing streak.
I’ll get back to you after the game.
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