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.

Difficult stretch looming for Wolves

Posted by: Kent Youngblood under Wolves practice news Updated: February 5, 2015 - 2:27 PM

Greetings. The Wolves had a relatively brief practice today to get ready for Friday's game with Memphis. The team is inching towards full health -- with a few setbacks -- and they're going to need it. Look at the team's upcoming schedule. Coach Flip Saunders has.

"I'd say, unfortunately for us, three of the next four opponents are three of the best teams in the league, when you look at Memphis, Atlanta and Golden State''

The Wolves host Memphis is Friday, play at Detroit Sunday, then come back home to host Atlanta on Monday and Golden State on Wednesday. "From our fan's perspective, it should be a great opportunity to see some great teams and great basketball."

Here are some items from today's practice:

--Veteran backup point guard Mo Williams, still dealing with a sore hip, is questionable for Friday's game.

--Rookie Zach LaVine had an interesting story about that second-quarter look-away bounce pass from Ricky Rubio to Anthony Bennett that resulted in Bennett's dunk on the break: 

LaVine was on the floor in the second quarter of Wednesday’s victory over Miami at Target Center when, on the fast break,  Rubio looked right, then sent a bounce pass left to y Bennett for a thunderous dunk. Let’s just say Miami wasn’t the only one fooled by that no-look pass.

“He passed it to Anthony but he looked at me. When Anthony caught it I went like this,” LaVine said, slapping his hands. “I was trying to catch the ball. I was like, ‘Man, good pass.’ Rick said, ‘Thanks, I had to look you off on that one. That was a good run.’ And I was like, ‘Man that was top 10. That was good.’ ‘’

--LaVine, by the way, said his ankle is good to go.

That's about it for now. Jerry will be with the team tomorrow.

Rubio-led Wolves win at home

Posted by: Kent Youngblood under Wolves postgame Updated: February 4, 2015 - 10:58 PM

Seems all I do is cover Wolves victories.

Joking, joking.

But tonight’s come-from-behind victory was a lot of fun to watch. It was also the first time the Wolves had rallied from a double-digit fourth-quarter deficit to win a game in nearly 27 months. Ricky Rubio was very good in his first home game back at Target Center since spraining his left ankle months ago. But this one was a team effort. The comeback was started with Rubio on the bench.

But it was Rubio who helped finish it.

Here are some observations on the game:

--This was Kevin Martin’s 80th career game with 30 or more points, his fourth this season. He was very, very good, with some key three-pointers in an otherwise difficult third quarter.

--Thad Young really came to play in the fourth quarter when he was part of a group – Gorgui Dieng was another key cog – that helped the Wolves finally control the boards. Young finished with 16 points and is averaging 17.2 points on 48.4-percent shooting over his last 11 games.

--Dieng had the first four points of that fourth-quarter comeback and he finished with 13 points on 4-for-5 shooting and nine rebounds. He had seven points, six rebounds and a block in the fourth quarter.

--The Wolves have won two of their last three home games after losing 10 straight.

--Tonight was just the fifth time this season the Wolves have shot better than 50 percent.

That’s about all for now. I’ll get back to you after tomorrow’s practice. 

Rubio-led Wolves win at home

Posted by: Kent Youngblood under Wolves postgame Updated: February 4, 2015 - 10:58 PM

Seems all I do is cover Wolves victories.

Joking, joking.

But tonight’s come-from-behind victory was a lot of fun to watch. It was also the first time the Wolves had rallied from a double-digit fourth-quarter deficit to win a game in nearly 27 months. Ricky Rubio was very good in his first home game back at Target Center since spraining his left ankle months ago. But this one was a team effort. The comeback was started with Rubio on the bench.

But it was Rubio who helped finish it.

Here are some observations on the game:

--This was Kevin Martin’s 80th career game with 30 or more points, his fourth this season. He was very, very good, with some key three-pointers in an otherwise difficult third quarter.

--Thad Young really came to play in the fourth quarter when he was part of a group – Gorgui Dieng was another key cog – that helped the Wolves finally control the boards. Young finished with 16 points and is averaging 17.2 points on 48.4-percent shooting over his last 11 games.

--Dieng had the first four points of that fourth-quarter comeback and he finished with 13 points on 4-for-5 shooting and nine rebounds. He had seven points, six rebounds and a block in the fourth quarter.

--The Wolves have won two of their last three home games after losing 10 straight.

--Tonight was just the fifth time this season the Wolves have shot better than 50 percent.

That’s about all for now. I’ll get back to you after tomorrow’s practice. 

Rubio still on minutes limit; soreness in Pekovic's ankle increases

Posted by: Kent Youngblood under Wolves pre-game Updated: February 4, 2015 - 6:13 PM

Greetings from Target Center, where the Wolves will tip off with Miami in about an hour.

Here are some pre-game notes:

--Coach Flip Saunders said Ricky Rubio came out OK from his first action Monday in Dallas. He was asked why he took Rubio out near the end of the game. It wasn’t just a minutes-limit thing:

“He was favoring (his left ankle) a little bit down the stretch,” Saunders said. “So I didn’t want to do anything. When you’re coming back, and you’re rehabbing, and it’s a little bit weak, you don’t want to take a chance. But he seemed OK.’’

Rubio will again be held to a minute limit of between 20 and 22 minutes, Saunders said.

--Center Nikola Pekovic has been experiencing more ankle soreness of late. So Saunders said the team needs to do a better job of monitoring Pek’s minutes. Saunders said he’d even consider not playing Pekovic on the back end of back-to-back games.

--Zach LaVine, who has missed two games with a twisted left ankle, is available to play tonight. But Saunders said he will avoid playing the rookie if he can help it, so that ankle has a little bit more time to heal.

--Saunders is hoping Shabazz Muhammad, who will miss his 14th game tonight because of an oblique muscle strain, could return either Friday or Sunday.

That’s about it for now. I’ll get back to you after the game.

He's back: Wolves' Rubio will play tonight in Dallas

Posted by: Jerry Zgoda under Wolves injury report, Wolves pre-game, Wolves news Updated: February 2, 2015 - 6:57 PM

Ricky Rubio will play tonight against the Mavericks in Dallas, presumably no more than 20 minutes.

Flip Saunders said that's the minutes limit for his star point guard who hasn't played a game since severely spraining his ankle in a Nov. 7 game at Orlando.

Expect Rubio will start and don't be surprised, if all goes well, if he plays more than that limit.

Rubio talked before the game about the growth he has gained in three months away, as a teammate, a leader and what he called a "coach."

He also said his shot has more arc and is improved from work with shooting coach Mike Penberthy during all that time when his upper body functioned while he healed his leg.

Rubio likely will be matched up against Mavs guard Devin Harris now that Rajon Rondo is out at least three games because of facial injuries sustained in Saturday's game.

One of Rubio's agents and one of his friends from Minneapolis have flown in for the game.

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