GameDay Blog: Wolves vs. Bobcats - Nov. 14, 2012

Mark Remme
Wolves Editor/Writer

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Be sure to follow all night for full analysis, highlights, postgame interviews and photos from tonight's game against the Bobcats.

End Q4: The Wolves fall 89-87 tonight against the Bobcats. After D-Will was fouled with 12 seconds left, he hit 1-of-2 shots to tie the game at 87-87. But Kemba Walker answered with a jumper of his own with 0.7 seconds left, giving the Bobcats an 89-87 victory. The Wolves never led but did come back to tie the game after being 16 down. Their next game is Friday against Golden State at Target Center. Final: CHA 89, MIN 87

Q4 26.0: Bobcats force turnover, but Sessions missed pair of free throws. AK with the rebound, Wolves ball w/ 26 seconds left. CHA 87, MIN 86

Q4 38.9: The Bobcats were charged with a technical for calling a timeout they didn't have on the inbound pass, and Ridnour connected to make it 87-86 w/ 38.9 left. The Wolves will have the ball here with a chance to take their first lead of the night. CHA 87, MIN 86

Q4 38.9: The Wolves have cut the lead to 87-85 thanks to a big block from Lou Amundson that led to an alley-oop from Ridnour to Cunningham, and after another defensive stop Alexey Shved scored on a lay-up that cut the lead to two. Bobcats ball. CHA 87, MIN 85

Q4 2:02: The Wolves are getting their stops, and they're capitalizing on the offensive end right now. Shved finished off a fast break with a contested lay-up, and after a steal Kirilenko finished in the paint to make it 85-81 with 2:02 to play. Charlotte's ball. CHA 85, MIN 81

Q4 3:15: The Wolves have again cut it to single digits trailing by nine with 3:15 left. Kirilenko has a game-high 24 points and is 3-of-3 from 3-point range--the rest of the team is 2-of-14. His latest 3-pointer coupled with Dante Cunningham's 18-foot jumper cut the lead to 85-76. A couple stops here and some good fortune on the offensive end could make this a game, but the Wolves need to tighten up defensively and stop giving up extended possessions. CHA 85, MIN 76

Q4 5:56: Two big plays just gave Target Center some life here even with the team down nine. Alexey Shved just connected on a 3-pointer from the top of the key with the shot clock expiring, cutting the lead to 11 and sending Ricky Rubio--in his street clothes--off the bench celebrating on the baseline. On the Bobcats' next possession, Andre Kirilenko completely denied Kemba Walker's shot attempt, then was rewarded on the other end of the court by scoring and drawing the foul. But he missed the free-throw, keeping the score 75-66. CHA 75, MIN 66

Q4 8:38: They're down, but they continue to fight. The Timberwolves are on a 6-2 run to start the fourth quarter and now trail 71-59 with 8:38 to play. Their last basket came on a fast-break jam by Malcolm Lee that cut the lead to 12. Lee has 10 points tonight and on a night in which Minnesota has struggled from the line, he's 4-of-6 from the stripe. CHA 71, MIN 59

End Q3: The Bobcats ended the third on a 12-3 run, and although the Wolves did cut it to seven points they now trail by 16 headed into the fourth. Charlotte is simply more opportunistic in chasing down offensive rebounds, they're connecting on 46 percent of their shots and they've got a 13-6 lead in fast-break points. They've got their biggest lead of the night with 12 minutes left. CHA 69, MIN 53

Q3 2:31: Missed opportunities are becoming apparent in this contest, as the Wolves are only down eight with about 14 minutes to play despite their injury woes. The problem is in games like this they really need to take advantage of as many opportunities as they can, but they're just 11-of-21 from the free-throw line and are not taking advantage of their offensive rebounds and extended offensive possessions. Coming out of the timeout, Alexey Shved checks in with Ridnour, Kirilenko, Cunningham and Amundson. CHA 61, MIN 53

Q3 5:14: Kirilenko connected on his second 3-pointer of the game--he's 2-for-2--and the Wolves now trail by nine with 5:14 left in the third quarter. Kirilenko leads all scorers with 19 points and is 6-of-8 from the field, while the rest of the team is 13-for-47. Ridnour is also in double-figures with 11 points. CHA 59, MIN 50

Halftime: Clearly a different Charlotte Bobcats team this year, a club that won just seven games last year but could be 4-3 after seven games if they win here tonight. And with the Wolves dressing just nine players tonight and opening up shooting 32.6 percent from the field in the first half, Charlotte has led by as many as 15 points. They're up 51-38 here at the half, led by Kemba Walker's 10 points and Ramon Sessions' eight. For the Wolves, Andrei Kirilenko leads the way with 14 points and six rebounds. The Wolves are beginning to chip into Charlotte's points in the paint advantage, but they still have a 26-20 edge in that department. The Wolves will need to keep the Bobcats out of transition and take it one basket at a time to chip away at this lead in the second half. Halftime: CHA 51, MIN 38

Q2 2:37: A staple of Minnesota's fast start this year has been owning the points in the paint advantage, but that hasn't been the case tonight. Charlotte has 24-16 edge in the paint, and when you add in a 9-3 edge in transition you get a Bobcats 13-point lead with 2:37 left. With Pekovic out and Stiemsma sitting--he hasn't played in the second--the Wolves are thin in the lane right now. Meanwhile, they're also 9-of-16 from the free-throw line. CHA 47, MIN 34

Q2 5:49: The Wolves are running into trouble with their nine-man roster, because the Bobcats just keep coming. They're using an up-tempo pace, and with the resources the Wolves have tonight it might be a way to wear Minnesota down quick score by quick score. The Wolves have Ridnour and Kirilenko back on the floor and are looking to climb back from their 12-point deficit. Right now Minnesota is shooting 31 percent (11-of-35) while Charlotte has connected on 56.3 percent (18-of-32). CHA 43, MIN 31

Q2 8:23: The Bobcats took advantage of an inexperienced three-guard lineup over the last three minutes, as Minnesota went with Alexey Shved, Malcolm Lee and Will Conroy along with Cunningham and Amundson. As a result the Wolves gave up quite a bit of rebounding size and defensive experience, and Charlotte took advantage by extending their lead to 10 with 8:23 left in the second. Coming out of the timeout, the Wolves are sticking with the same lineup. Will see if they made any adjustments to dig into this lead. CHA 37, MIN 27

End Q1: The Wolves turned their defense into offense to end the first quarter. After a miss on the offensive end, Charlotte went out in transition and looked like it would increase its lead to eight before Dante Cunningham swatted a Ramon Sessions lay-up attempt. Ridnour picked up the loose ball before it went out of bounds, hit Andrei Kirilenko on the offensive end, and AK drained a 3-pointer at the buzzer to cut the Bobcats lead to four. That's a five-point swing to end the quarter, and a big boost in momentum for the Wolves. To open up the second, the Wolves send Lee, Shved, Kirilenko, Cunningham and Amundson to the court. CHA 28, MIN 24

Q1 1:58: Andrei Kirilenko continues to play a do-it-all roll on this team in this first quarter. He's leading the team with seven points, including four free-throw attempts, is hitting the offensive glass and is making impressive passes in their half court sets. Meanwhile, Kemba Walker has a game-high eight points for the Bobcats. The key early on in this first quarter has been the Wolves getting to the free-throw line. Charlotte has seven personal fouls so far, but Minnesota has not capitalized shooting just 6-for-10 from the stripe. They'll need to take advantage of those opportunities if Charlotte continues to give them trips to the line. CHA 23, MIN 18

Q1 5:28: The Bobcats are pushing the pace right off the bat tonight, and even though they've only converted on two field goals in transition they've certainly gotten opportunities. That's because Charlotte looks for long outlet passes immediately after Timberwolves' misses, and with the Wolves opening up the game 4-of-12 shooting from the field, they've had opportunities. But Minnesota has contested a few of those fast break opportunities, including a nice block from behind by Greg Stiemsma on Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Luke Ridnour has six points on 3-of-4 shooting early, two of those baskets coming off of nice drives to the lane. The rest of the team is currently 1-of-8. Derrick Williams has four points but is 1-of-5 from the field and is 2-of-4 from the free-throw line. CHA 15, MIN 10

Pregame 7:10 PM: Tipoff about to happen here at Target Center. Here are the starters. Bobcats: PG-Kemba Walker, SG-Jeffery Taylor, SF-Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, PF-Byron Mullens, C-Brendan Haywood. Timberwolves: PG-Luke Ridnour, SG-Malcolm Lee, SF-Andrei Kirilenko, PF-Derrick Williams, C-Greg Stiemsma.

Pregame 6:30 PM: Brandon Roy talked to the media in the locker room tonight, and he said he hasn't been able to test his knees in contact situations since leaving the Wolves' game against Orlando last week. He said he's still looking to return on Friday; that's his goal to return by the end of the week. Still, if the Wolves get through these two games tonight and Friday they'll have four days until their next game.

"It's hard to say," Roy said. "Usually I get some type of contact before I get into a game situation. We didn't do it yesterday, and I'm going to do something tomorrow—even if it's 1-on-1 stuff."

Pregame 6:25 PM: Welcome to Target Center, where the Timberwolves will host the Charlotte Bobcats beginning at 7 p.m. in the two teams’ first meeting of the year. The Wolves enter the game 5-2, while the Bobcats are 3-3 and tied for second in the Southeast Division just one year removed from a 7-59 campaign.

The big news from Wolves camp remains the team’s injuries. Minnesota currently has six of its 15 players unavailable, including four of the team’s projected starters to begin the year, and will have nine available to play tonight against Charlotte. The most recent announcements on player availability came this morning at shootaround, where the team announced center Nikola Pekovic (sprained left ankle), shooting guard Brandon Roy (sore left knee) and point guard JJ Barea (left mid-foot sprain) would all sit tonight.

Still, the Wolves are finding ways to win despite the injury woes. Minnesota is coming off a 90-82 victory in Dallas, a victory entrenched in sound defense. That’s the key for this team with so many players injured.

“You prefer to have everybody on the floor,” forward Andrei Kirilenko said. “Right now we’re a little bit shorthanded, but I don’t know why but we figure out ways to win the game. Let’s stay on that pace. I like that pace.”

The key for Adelman will be allocating minutes. He doesn’t want to overuse guys like Kirilenko and Luke Ridnour—Kirilenko played 44 minutes and Ridnour played 40 minutes on Monday in Dallas—but with the roster as it sits he’ll make adjustments as he goes along. It’s important to get production across the board in order to give players like Ridnour and Kirilenko rest, and Adelman said pregame this team will not win with five guys playing 45 minutes. It needs to be a nine-person effort.

Adelman said as guards Malcolm Lee and Alexey Shved continue to get minutes, they continue to grow in confidence. That’s important, too, because Adelman said he’d like to get Ridnour opportunities to play off the ball and generate chances to spot up and shoot from the perimeter. Ridnour is the team’s best available 3-point shooter.

The Wolves mentioned in shootaround that keeping Charlotte out of transition will be a key tonight. The Bobcats are eighth in the league in fast-break points, and according to coach Mike Dunlap the big reason for that is their young, athletic players have been able to get stops. “We’ve been pretty good in running off the misses in particular, and we’ve got young guys, young legs and we’ve really pushed the tempo,” Dunlap said.

Here are a few pregame notes to keep in mind as we await tipoff from Target Center:

  • The Wolves trail in their all-time series against Charlotte, 6-10, but are 4-4 at Target Center. Minnesota swept the 2011-12 series (2-0), winning 102-90 at Target Center and 88-83 in Charlotte.

  • At 5-2, the Wolves have matched their second-best record through seven games in franchise history (best was 6-1 in 2001-02 season). Other 5-2 starts: 1999-2000 and 1998-99. If the Wolves win tonight, it would raise their home record to 4-0 and be the team’s first 4-0 start at home since the 2002-03 season and just the fifth in franchise history.

  • The Wolves rank 1st in the NBA in opponents' field goal percentage at 40.8% and 2nd in scoring defense, allowing just 88.43 points per game (New York, 87.80).

  • Andrei Kirilenko is filling the box score so far this season, averaging 11.9 points, 8.1 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 2.0 blocks and 1.7 steals. He ranks 10th in the NBa in field goal percentage at 57.1% (20-for-30), 14th in the NBA in blocked shots and 21st in steals. He has recorded a point/rebound double-double the last two games.

  • Dante Cunningham has scored in double digits the past three games, averaging 13.0 ppg on 66.7 % (18-27) shooting.

  • The Wolves have outscored their opponent in points in the paint in five of seven games and have an average edge of 42.9 - 35.7 for the season.

  • The Wolves have been getting off to good starts, outscoring their opponent's by an average of 24.1 – 20.3 in the first quarter of games and compiling a shooting percentage of 48.6% to 37.4%.

  • Charlotte has won its last two games, the first time the team has won consecutive games since April 11 and 13, 2011. The Bobcats rank 3rd in the NBA in blocked shots (7.5) and 10th in steals (9.0). The team also has the 4th fewest turnovers at 13.2 per game.

  • Kemba Walker ranks 2nd in the NBA in steals (2.7), and 6th in assists per turnover (3.9). His 18.5 ppg are 21st in the league. Ramon Sessions has scored in double digits in all six of Charlotte's games, averaging 16.0 ppg and 4.7 assists.

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