GameDay Blog: Wolves vs. Blazers - Feb. 4, 2013

Mark Remme
Wolves Editor/Writer

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Final: The Wolves got a look despite a nice contest by the Blazers, but Cunningham missed from his sweet spot just inside the arc and Minnesota falls 100-98 tonight. DC finished with 23 points, Barea with 17, Rubio with 15 and Pek with 13. Check back here at Timberwolves.com for updates throughout the night. FINAL: POR 100, MIN 98

Q4 5.9 Aldridge just missed two free throws, Wolves ball coming out of the timeout down 2. POR 100, MIN 98

Q4 36.9: Great sequence over the past 25 seconds for the Wolves. Out of the timeout the get a nice dish from Shved to Pek in the paint for two, and then Dante picks up a steal that leads to a lay-up by Barea, and all of a sudden it's a one-point game. POR 97, MIN 96

Q4 1:03: It's a 5-point game after Rubio hit a pair of free throws after being fouled on a drive attempt that nearly fell. The Blazers just turned the ball over, and it's a two-possession game and the Wolves have the ball. POR 97, MIN 92

Q4 3:08: Minnesota is making this one a ballgame one basket at a time. They've trailed by as many as 19, but they've brought this one back to nine after three straight jumpers by Dante Cunningham, and with 3:08 left its' a single-digit game. The key down the stretch will be containing Aldridge, who has the hot hand with 28 points and 12 boards. Cunningham has been the go-to as of late. He's got 19 points after an 18-point performance on Saturday. He's hit 18-of-23 during these last two games. POR 95, MIN 86

Q4 8:16: I don't have the stats on how many shots the Wolves have missed inside three feet, but I'd like to check it out. They're struggling from in close, and it's made a big difference tonight. They still have the advantage in the paint, but they could have it by a much greater margin if they were able to finish off lay-ups and other high percentage shots near the rim. Meanwhile, Lillard and Matthews have combined for 35 points tonight for the Blazers, while the Wolves' starting five have a combined 36 points. POR 84, MIN 70

End Q3: Well, the last 30 seconds of the half pretty much sum this one up. Nolan Smith hit a corner 3-pointer--he's hit five all season including that one--and with 0.2 seconds left in the quarter underneath the Wolves' offensive basket, Minnesota commits a foul that puts Smith on the line to shoot 2. He hit both. That foul was committed 78 feet from the basket. Portland went on a 20-4 run at the end of the quarter after Minnesota cut it to three. POR 77, MIN 58

Q3 2:51: That didn't last long. After the Wolves cut it to 3, the Blazers have gone on an 11-2 run that pushes this game to 12 points with just under three minutes left in the third. It's been a healthy dose of Lillard, who has six assists, and LaMarcus Aldridge getting to the hoop. He's got 19 now to lead all scorers. To combat things, Adelman is going to his bench and bringing in Shved, Barea and Cunningham to pair with Ridnour and Pekovic. MIN 68, MIN 56

Q3 5:29: The Wolves were shooting 38 percent overall and were 0-for-7 from 3-point range before Mickael Gelabale hit a 3-pointer that cut this Blazers lead to 5. Portland has struggled tonight--they've got 19 turnovers so far--and it's really keeping the Wolves in this game. As we come out of the timeout, Rubio is at the line and hits a pair that cuts this lead to three with a quarter and a half to play. POR 57, MIN 54

Halftime: A couple notes at the half. Andrei Kirilenko headed to the locker room early with an apparent leg injury. No update yet but we'll see how he's doing with a report from the PR staff when it's available. Meanwhile, Pekovic has nine points on 3-of-6 shooting at the half to lead the Wolves. A bright note for the Wolves is they're leading points in the paint 24-14. Matthews leads all scorers with 16 points, and Aldridge has been a pretty tough guard for everyone who has matched up with him as he has 14 points on 7-of-10 shooting. Portland is connecting on 52 percent from the field tonight. POR 49, MIN 38

Q2 3:47: This is an 11-point game at the moment, mostly because the Trail Blazers one fewer turnover (12) than the Wolves have field goals (13). When they execute their offense, they're making shots at a 51 percent clip. But they're not able to do that regularly, and it's costing them so far. Still, they hold an 11-point game as we near the end of the first half. Matthews has 14 points and four 3-pointers, the last coming as Shved couldn't get out to the corner quick enough off the inbound. POR 41, MIN 30

Q2 5:53: Greg Stiemsma just put together a monster block on Damian Lillard in transition after Lillard picked off a Shved pass and went in for the fast-break jam. Both Stiemsma and Lillard ended up on the ground after the dunk, but it saved Minnesota a field goal. Great play by Stiemer, who has certainly asserted himself physically over the past week. POR 34, MIN 28

Q2 8:52: A couple off topic notes here. For one, Target Center's lights went off for a moment as the Wolves' game presentation group gave us a little current events lesson based on last night's Super Bowl. Second, the Wolves did a little preseason predictions piece with the players picking who would win this year's Big Game. Six predictions, zero for the Ravens. However I'm pretty disappointed with a couple guys picking the Packers to win. No Vikings, somehow?! POR 33, MIN 26

End Q1: Portland ended the quarter shooting 55 percent led by nine from Matthews and eight from Aldridge. They're also doubling Minnesota up with a 15-7 rebounding advantage. The Wolves are hanging in there despite 7-of-22 shooting, mostly because they're hitting their free throws (4-of-5) while Portland has yet to go to the line. But back court containment is going to be important all night, and Minnesota is starting the second quarter with Barea and Shved in the back court. POR 25, MIN 18

Q1 2:57: Wesley Matthews seems to like facing the Wolves. Like I wrote earlier, he's scored 30 and 26 in two previous games against Minnesota this year, and he's already got nine on 3-of-5 shooting--all from 3-point range--already in the first nine minutes. Meanwhile Lillard has three assists and four points. Minnesota needs to find a way to slow down this back court over the course of this game. On the flip side, Minnesota is getting good production from Pek down low (five points) and we're seeing an aggressive Ricky Rubio taking shots. He's 1-of-4 so far, but it's good to see him taking looks even if they're not falling. He has passed up shots this season that he should have taken. POR 21, MIN 14

Q1 5:34: Both teams struggling from the field to start this one, unlike Saturday when Minnesota came in firing against the Hornets. The Wolves are shooting 4-of-11 so far, but they're right in this game as the Blazers are shooting 5-of-12. So far Luke Ridnour is leading the way with four points and 2-of-4 shooting, and he's also been active defensively as he created a turnover on LaMarcus Aldridge just before this last timeout. Pek has three quick rebounds tonight. POR 11, MIN 8

Starters
Blazers:
PG-Damian Lillard, SG-Wesley Matthews, SF-Nicolas Batum, PF-LaMarcus Aldridge, C-J.J. Hickson

Wolves: PG-Ricky Rubio, SG-Luke Ridnour, SF-Andrei Kirilenko, PF-Derrick Williams, C-NIkola Pekovic

Pregame 6:45 PM: Welcome to Target Center for tonight’s game between the Wolves and Blazers. Before we get rolling here on the GameDay Blog let’s get the channel specifics out of the way. Tonight’s game is scheduled to be on Fox Sports North Plus, so CLICK HERE to check out the channel guide. As always you can listen to Alan Horton on 830 WCCO-AM and the Wolves Radio Network.

Tonight the Wolves look for their first consecutive wins since a four-game winning streak in December, and they also look to get their first win in three tries against the Portland Trail Blazers. Before tonight’s game Blazers coach Terry Stotts gave his perspective on what he always expects out of a Rick Adelman-coached team, and he was spot on with what Minnesota hopes to do tonight against this challenging Blazers squad.

"I think they've always been a very good passing team. Passing, and movement," Stotts said. "I've always enjoyed watching his teams play; Sacramento teams and obviously the old Portland teams, but they pass the ball well, they move well without the ball, they play up and down."

The Wolves will likely not get a break in the injury department tonight, as shooting guard Wesley Matthews has not been ruled out after missing last game with a sprained right ankle that kept him out of Saturday’s game against Utah. If he did miss the game, it would be the fourth straight contest in which Minnesota caught a team without a standout player—they got the Clippers without Chris Paul, the Lakers without Dwight Howard and the Hornets without Eric Gordon all on this homestand.

Matthews has been an absolute Wolves killer this year, having scored 30 points on Nov. 23 and 26 on Jan. 5, which are his two largest point totals of the season. He and Damian Lillard have been dominant against the Wolves this season, using their athleticism to cut to the basket and really penetrating on the pick and roll.

Lillard has been equally menacing, scoring 28 points and adding eight assists against Minnesota on Nov. 23 and putting up 20 more points and six assists on Jan. 5.

“I’ve been in the league five years now with this team—I had Andre Miller, Steve Blake, Raymond Felton,” Nicolas Batum said of his former point guards. “[Lillard] is different. He is good—he’s very good, and he’s going to be the Rookie of the Year this year for sure. He brings a lot of things: Scoring, energy, he wants to win, too. He’s a good player.”

Here are some news and notes as we await tipoff at Target Center:

  • The Wolves trail in the all-time series 26-66, and are 15-30 at home. The Blazers have won 19 of the previous 21 meetings. Portland has won the two previous meetings this season: 103-95 at Portland on Nov. 23 and 102-97 at Minnesota on Jan. 5.


  • The Wolves enter tonight in the 12th position in the Western Conference, 5.5 games behind Houston for the final playoff spot. Minnesota is 12-9 at Target Center this season.


  • Dante Cunningham set a Wolves single-game record on Saturday for the most consecutive field goals made in a game without a miss when he went 9-for-9 from the field. Cunningham needs to make his next four field goals to tie the Wolves record for consecutive field goals at 13. (Felton Spencer, Kevin Garnett 2x).


  • Andrei Kirilenko is shooting 60.0% (57-for-95) in his last nine games at Target Center. He ranks 26th in the NBA in FG% (51.3) and 19th in steals (1.55 spg).


  • Over the last four games, Ricky Rubio is averaging 10.3 points, on 46.9% shooting, 6.5 assists and 2.5 steals in 27.0 minutes per game. He has dished out 6+ assists in nine of the last 10 contests.


  • Nikola Pekovic is averaging 17.7 points, on 53.1% shooting, and 9.8 rebounds in his last 21 games (11 double-doubles). He has pulled down at least one offensive board in 49 straight games, the 4th-longest active streak in the NBA (Kevin Love No. 1 at 75 games).


  • Alexey Shved is averaging 14.0 points and 5.7 assists in three games since coming back from a sprained left ankle. Among rookies, he ranks 5th in scoring (11.0 ppg) and 2nd in assists (4.7 apg). Shved will represent the Wolves in the Rising Stars Challenge on Feb. 16 during All-Star Weekend in Houston


  • Portland is 4-2 in its last six games, but had lost six consecutive prior to that. The Blazers are 9th in the Western Conference, one game behind Houston for the final playoff spot. The Blazers lead the league with 11 wins when trailing at halftime. The team is also 16-1 when leading after three quarters.


  • In the two games vs. Minnesota this season, Wesley Matthews is averaging 28.0 ppg, on 62.5% shooting (20-for-32) -- including 76.9% from 3-point range (10-for-13)


  • LaMarcus Aldridge has recorded a double-double in the last four games, and ranks 8th in the NBA with 23 double doubles. Teammate JJ Hickson ranks 3rd with 26 double-doubles.


  • Damian Lillard leads all rookies in scoring (18.4 ppg) and assists (6.5 apg). He has tallied 20+ points 23 times this season, including five times in the last eight games.



  • For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Timberwolves and Mark Remme on Twitter, and join the conversation at WolvesNation.com.