Wolves vs. Warriors Gameday
Final: 115-108 Wolves
The Wolves closed the game after building a 13-point lead in the fourth quarter. Minnesota continued to play aggressive defense, which frustrated the Warriors into turnovers and erratic offensive basketball. Love finished the game with 19 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the floor and seven points from the free throw line. In his return from injury, Miller struggled from the field but grabbed five boards to help lift the Wolves bench. Jefferson led all scorers with 32 points and ten rebounds and was perfect from the free throw line. Gomes also recorded a double-double in the victory with 21 points and ten boards. Both teams shot poorly from the 3-point line but above 45 percent from the field. The Wolves have put together a nice set of eight games by winning three of their last five to improve to 7-25 on the season.
Third Quarter: 91-84 Wolves
The Wolves sustained an early barrage from the Warriors to snag the momentum back around the five minute mark of the quarter. Jefferson forced Biedrins to the bench with four fouls after another successful pump fake and bucket. Big Al is dominating the post with 28 points and the Wolves have scored 42 points in the paint. The shooting percentage has increased for Minnesota to 47.8 percent and the Wolves are 20-of-25 from the free throw line. A surprising statistic is the disparity of fast break points in the Wolves favor with a 23-5 advantage. Gomes is playing solid defense and has limited Jackson’s attempts from the field to just seven. Gomes also scored 12 points in the quarter for 19 in the game along with nine rebounds. With 91 points through three quarter, the Wolves are well on their way to a victory. They have bounced back from every run from the Warriors and Minnesota looks like the superior team tonight. All that said, they did relinquish a 29-point lead to Dallas just three days ago.
Halftime Special: Jonah Ballow with Stephon Marbury Exclusive Interview
Marbury is back in town to check out the Wolves game along with handling some personal business. The former Wolves point guard took a couple of minutes to share his thoughts on Telfiar, this Minnesota squad, and his latest holdout with the New York Knicks.
Halftime: 58-57 Wolves
The second period featured both teams trading baskets. Golden State regained the lead at the 5:20 mark behind an Anthony Morrow 3-point shot. Morrow has scored 11 points off the bench and the Warriors second unit has combined for 25 points. Golden State also started to shoot the ball with better effectiveness in the second quarter and they sit at 53.8 percent from the field for the game. Biedrins leads the Warriors in scoring with 13 points and he also grabbed seven rebounds. For Minnesota, Love has been aggressive on offense with ten points. Jefferson scored 17 in the first half and continues to find easy scores in the paint. On multiple possessions, Jefferson used a pump fake to get Biedrins in the air or commit a foul. Biedrins will have to deal with foul trouble the rest of the game with three fouls. Golden State made a late rally in the quarter but Jefferson hit a lay up in the final seconds of the half to give the Wolves a one-point lead heading into the locker room.
First Quarter: 32-26 Wolves
The Warriors held a 9-7 lead before Jefferson connected on a 3-point play to give Minnesota a one point advantage. Biedrins has been all over the glass with six rebounds in the first quarter but struggled to keep up with Jefferson on the defense. The starting center recorded his second foul at the four minute mark of the quarter. Jefferson looks to be on his way to a big game with 13 points on 5-of-6 shooting. Love contributed early by snagging two boards and scoring six points. Miller entered the game at the 4:55 mark for the first time since the ankle injury against Houston. He missed his first two free throws but bounced back to convert a 3-point play. The Wolves finished the quarter by shooting 48 percent from the field and 72 percent from the free throw line. Minnesota outscored Golden State 18-10, which will be an important stat to follow throughout the game.
Pregame News and Notes: 6:51 PM
Mike Miller will suit up for the Wolves tonight after missing five games with an ankle injury.
For the Warriors, Maggette, Brandan Wright, and Monta Ellis are all inactive for tonight’s game.
The first two weeks of January will offer a slightly easier schedule for Minnesota with four consecutive games against sub .500 teams, starting tonight against the Warriors. Golden State will miss three important pieces of its squad this evening and the Wolves have won two of their last four games. As J.B. Bickerstaff stated in the scouting report, Minnesota must take control of the pace early in this game. The Wolves have to forget the blown 29-point lead in Dallas and mimic the first half performance against the Mavericks tonight in order to capture a victory.
Wolves Pregame Audio
Warriors Shootaround Audio
John Focke with Ronny Turiaf
Wolves Shootaround Audio
Jonah Ballow with JB Bickerstaff
The Warriors have made significant changes since the team shocked the league with a first round upset over Dallas in the playoffs two seasons ago. Baron Davis bolted for the Clippers during the offseason, Monta Ellis suffered a major ankle injury in the summer and Golden State traded Al Harrington. The new-look squad features Jamal Crawford from New York and Corey Maggette, who signed a free-agent contract in the offseason. The lack of consistency on the Warriors roster and injuries to Maggette and Ellis has resulted in a 10-24 record to start the season. Maggette is the leading scorer for Golden State at 19.1 points per game but the forward has missed 14 straight games with a slightly torn right hamstring. The Warriors remain the second-best scoring team in the league but they allow 111.2 points per game, which is the worst defense in the NBA. Golden State also struggles on the road with a league-worst 17 losses away from ORACLE Arena. One of the Warriors home victories this season was a 113-110 overtime win past Minnesota. During the November 11 meeting, the Wolves built a four-point lead after three quarters, only to get outscored 30-23 in the final quarter and overtime.
With Ellis missing the entire start of the 2008-09 season, Golden State bolstered its backcourt with the addition of Crawford. At 18.5 points per game, Crawford is the ultimate scoring point guard with the ability to create his own shots on the offensive side of the floor. Crawford hits 40 percent of his field goal attempts while dishing out 4.8 assists per game. Minnesota will certainly have to adjust to the new addition, as the Wolves did not face Crawford in the first meeting. At the two spot, the Warriors start Marco Belinelli and bring Kelenna Azubuike off the bench to play either forward or shooting guard. Belinelli scored 20-plus points in two of his last five games but shot 1-for-8 in the loss to Oklahoma City two days ago. The Italian guard is starting in place of Maggette and Belinelli will see his minutes decrease with the eventual return of Maggette to the lineup.
Stephen Jackson showed the Wolves his ability to take over a game with 30 points and five assists in the win on November 11. For many years, Jackson has been considered a great scorer with ice water in his veins. The small forward scored six points in the overtime session to lead Golden State over Minnesota in the first meeting. Jackson is averaging 19 points a game and will launch at least five 3-point attempts per game. The challenge in defending Jackson is the decision on whether to chase him off the 3-point line or defend the long-range jumper. Jackson does possess the skill set to take the ball to the paint and score effectively. Throughout the season, Azubuike continues to display offensive talent off the bench. The former Kentucky forward is a physical player and 40 percent shooter from the 3-point line. Azubuike is gaining confidence in a more established role with the team, as he scored 24 points in the loss to Oklahoma City on New Year's Eve. At the center position, Andris Biedrins averages a double-double at 14.1 points and 11.9 rebounds per game. Biedrins ranks second in the league in offensive rebounding; slightly behind All-Star center Dwight Howard. In his fifth season, Biedrins continues to improve as a scorer by leading the team in field goal percentage at 54.7. The matchup in the paint between Al Jefferson and Biedrins should be interesting, considering the vastly different styles in post play. Jefferson is a crafty scorer while Biedrins gets most of his points from offensive rebounding. The Wolves should force the action in the paint to try to get Biedrins in foul trouble as he averages 3.8 fouls per game.
Minnesota will look to recover from the 29-point debacle against the Mavericks. Golden State might be the perfect opposition with the Warriors in the midst of a 3-game road trip. The pace of the game will be intriguing tonight due to Golden State's focus on scoring points quickly. Head coach Don Nelson likes his team to dictate the action, which at times will create a hectic game. The Wolves put up 60 points in the first half of the Dallas contest, so expect a high-scoring game tonight at the Target Center. Tipoff scheduled for 7 PM.
Jamal Crawford, PG
Marco Belinelli, SG
Stephen Jackson, SF
Brandan Wright, PF
Andris Biedrins, C
Kevin Ollie, PG
Randy Foye, SG
Ryan Gomes, SF
Craig Smith, PF
Al Jefferson, C