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By Rick Magnuson
The Minnesota Timberwolves were devastated with injuries during their 89-84 victory over the Allen Iverson-less Philadelphia 76ers Friday night at Target Center.
The Wolves’ sparkplug Mark “Mad Dog” Madsen left Friday’s game late in the first quarter, clutching his left hand. He did not return to the game. Tests revealed that Madsen had indeed suffered a broken left thumb.
“Dog’s our power plant,” Kevin Garnett said to a reporter from the Star Tribune. “He brings energy every night. He keeps lots of balls alive. So we’ve got to fill that void.”
Madsen underwent surgery Saturday, having two pins inserted into his broken thumb. He is expected to be in a cast for at least six weeks.
With the injury to Madsen, the Wolves are reeling to fill the power forward position.
Head coach Flip Saunders thought the Wolves might have to sign another player, or they might need to ask Wally Szczerbiak to fill in some at the power forward position.
Asking swingman Szczerbiak to play some at the power forward position may be a tall order to fill. Szczerbiak would be giving up considerable size to most power forwards around the league. A better option might be increasing Eddie Griffin’s minutes. And if the Wolves can get similar production from him like they were earlier in the season, it will help soften the Madsen loss.
A more viable option, however, might be bringing in another player from outside the organization. And the Wolves are wasting little time talking to available candidates. Jim Stack, the Wolves’ general manager, told the St. Paul Pioneer Press that John Thomas, a former University of Minnesota player, and Corie Blount are the leading candidates.
You can look for the Wolves to bring in someone sooner rather than later.
Guard Sam Cassell was also injured during Friday’s victory, though to a lesser extent than Madsen. Cassell, who led all scores with 26 Friday, fell to the floor late in the fourth quarter, holding his hamstring. He left the game with help from the trainer and would not return.
The Wolves thought Cassell might be available for Saturday’s game against the Washington Wizards, but he was held out for precautionary reasons. Saunders said the Wolves wanted to be cautious and not risk him tearing his hamstring.
In Cassell’s absence Saturday night, Troy Hudson and Anthony Carter filled in admirably. They combined for 21 points and eight assists.
Cassell is listed as day to day and is questionable for Monday’s contest versus the Los Angeles Lakers.