MINNEAPOLIS – The Timberwolves will have just nine players Saturday night against Houston, even after signing Mickael Gelabale and Chris Johnson to 10-day contracts.
The latest casualty is forward Dante Cunningham, who missed shootaround with an illness and is still too sick to play. Guard Alexey Shved, who’s status is day-to-day with a sprained ankle, is out, as is center Nikola Pekovic, who likely won’t play for about a week with a bruised right quad.
This is the most injured the team has been yet this season.
More on Gelabale: President of basketball operations David Kahn said he didn’t go to Luke Ridnour for an opinion when he was scouting Gelabale, even though Ridnour played with the forward for two seasons in Seattle from 2006-08. Gelabale is a much different player now, Kahn said, and he felt that it’s at times awkward to discuss potential players to bring in with current ones.
Even so, Ridnour provided his own assessment of his new teammate Saturday morning:
“Jelly? Ah, he was a rookie. He’s athletic. He’s a really good defender. He’s a slasher. He can make plays. He’s just a good all-around basketball player, does all the little things pretty well.”
Ridnour said Gelabale can guard both small forwards and shooting guards, and yes, he did refer to him as “Jelly.” That was his nickname in Seattle, at least, Ridnour said. (Gelabale is pronounced jell-a-ball, in case you were wondering.)
The Rockets: Last time the Rockets were in town, the Timberwolves blew a fourth-quarter lead and lost, 87-84, on Dec. 26. That was the Rockets’ fifth consecutive win at the time, in the midst of a 12-3 stretch. Since that stretch ended, Houston has lost six straight, including a 105-95 game Friday to the Pacers.
When the Timberwolves lost to the Rockets last time, it snapped a three-game winning streak over Houston. Minnesota, too, is on a losing streak, and though it’s one game shorter than Houston’s, the Timberwolves are losing by far greater margins than the Rockets. During their streak, James Harden and company have lost by an average of 8.5 points; the Timberwolves have lost by an average of 16.0 points during theirs.