By Jerry Zgoda
Phil Miller covered the game tonight at Target Center. Here are his thoughts and notes from tonight’s 124-111 loss to Denver.
– Al Jefferson had 14 points and 12 rebounds on Wednesday, but it sure didn’t look like much fun. Kenyon Martin and Nene are a formidable, physical inside presence, and while Jefferson insists his 2-for-11 start had more to do with him than them — “I was just missing shots, that’s all,” he insisted more than once — they certainly made the lane uncomfortably crowded. Jefferson wrestled with those behemoths for much of the 36 minutes he played, so it wasn’t surprising he didn’t seem to agree with Kurt Rambis’ assessment that the Wolves didn’t play with enough energy. He certainly expended plenty of energy of his own. And how will he spend the Thanksgiving holiday? “Practice,” he said. “More practice.”
– Jefferson wasn’t kidding, by the way. Rambis, clearly still piqued by his team’s iffy effort, scheduled an unusual holiday practice for 10 a.m. Thanksgiving morning. That probably wasn’t popular in the locker room.
– Denver coach George Karl moved into a tie for seventh place in coaching victories with win No. 944. He can pass Bill Fitch with a win over the Knicks on Friday. Speaking of which, get a load of the Nuggets schedule. Wednesday was the second game of a five game stretch that goes: New Jersey (win), at Minnesota (win), New York, Minnesota again, Golden State. Total victories among their opponents for those five games: Nine, five of them by the Warriors.
– Corey Brewer had a nice game, taking to heart Rambis’ insistence that all five Wolves attack the boards. Brewer finished with 13 rebounds and 22 points, both season highs. Actually, the Wolves’ rebounding was impressive all the way around, especially considering that they have given up a double-digit rebounding deficit in six of their last nine games. Minnesota outrebounded Denver 55-49, and collected 16 offensive rebounds — four of them by Brewer — to Denver’s nine.
– Don’t be fooled by the final score, the fourth quarter had little relation to the first three. Carmelo Anthony, Kenyon Martin, Chauncey Billups and Nene all sat out the entire period, which is why Minnesota closed a 23-point gap after three periods to just eight points, 119-111, with 1:10 to play. The crowd was getting into the spirit of the comeback, but they were silenced in a hurry by Aaron Affalo’s three-pointer.
– Karl on news that former Nugget Allen Iverson may walk away from the NBA: “I am surprised. I think he still has something left to give some team out there. But if that’s his decision, he’ll go down in history, I think, as the greatest little guard ever to play the game. But I have a sneaky feeling somewhere along the way, (because of) an injury or some circumstance, a team might open that window back up.”