GameDay LIVE Blog: Wolves vs. Grizzlies | Jan. 31, 2014

GameDay LIVE Blog: Grizzlies 94, Wolves 90



Final: That's your ballgame, folks. The Wolves came back, but it wasn't enough as the Grizzlies owned the final 2:24 and came away with a 94-90 win. Minnesota was led by Kevin Love's 28 and 16, while Martin had 14, Cunningham had 12 and Barea had 12. The Wolves were down 16 in the second half and came back to lead by three, but they were outscored 10-5 in the final 2 1/2 minutes and it cost them the game. More to come on Timberwolves.com, so stay tuned. MEM 94, MIN 90

Q4 59.6: And just like that, the Wolves are back down six. After Memphis took the lead back, Randolph hit a tough shot in the paint over Love and Prince hit a corner 3. MEM 91, MIN 85

Q4 2:24: Great finish coming up here at Target Center. The Wolves battled hard to get back in this game, and they lead by one despite Memphis' efforts to try and gain momentum back. Huge halves from Love, Barea and Cunningham. Wolves going with Barea, Martin, Brewer, Love and Turiaf with 2:24 to go. MIN 85, MEM 84

Q4 7:00: Barea just drained back-to-back 3s to put the Wolves back up 77-76 after falling behind, but Mike Miller responded with a 3 from the wing to put the Grizzlies back up by two heading into this timeout. Love is headed back into the lineup with Barea, Brewer, Budinger and Cunningham. MEM 79, MIN 77

End Q3: This is the loudest it's been all year long at Target Center, and for good reason. The Wolves fell behind by 16 in the third but began chipping away midway through. After Love's jumper at the end of the quarter, Minnesota now takes its first lead of the night into the fourth. How did it happen? Well, Love was a big part o fit. He shot 7-of-9 from the field, scored 18 points and added seven boards in the quarter. Rubio was sensational facilitating, he added six assists. Most importantly, Turiaf played strong defense inside and the Wolves held Memphis to 16 points in that quarter. MIN 67, MEM 66

Q3 3:00: Ronny Turiaf is all over the place right now. He's threw down two rim-rattling dunks consecutively, and he's also playing some pretty strong interior defense on Gasol. Nice stretch here for the big guy. MEM 63, MIN 55

Q3 5:17: The Grizzlies kicked this lead back up to 16 earlier in this quarter, but the Wolves are chipping away. Love is heating up here. He just had a basket inside and followed it up with a kickout 3 at the top of the key and another field goal inside the arc. He's up to 15 points and 10 boards on 7-of-11 shooting. Martin has 12, and the Wolves are starting to cut into this lead a bit--and more importantly, they're getting the momentum back. Seconds ago, Turiaf just threw down a jam from Ricky Rubio, cutting the lead again. MEM 61, MIN 52

Halftime: Tough quarter for the Wolves, who were outscored 20-15 after falling behind by eight in the first. They were hoping to make a little bit of a push, but Memphis is doing a good job of protecting the rim and making it tough to penetrate and get open looks. The Wolves got 10 from K-Mart (all in the first), and he's leading the way. Rubio and Love each have six, while DC has four off the bench. Minnesota is 1-of-8 from 3-point range and also getting out-scored 36-20 in the paint. Memphis' interior bigs are having a nice night, combining for 8-of-14 shooting and 18 points. Courtney Lee has 12 on 4-of-4 shooting. Memphis is doing a good job of getting inside, which is obviously their strength. So far, Memphis has led wire-to-wire. MEM 50, MIN 37

Q2 7:50: Monster block by Gorgui Dieng protecting the rim against Ed Davis moments ago. Davis went up for the block and Dieng met him at the hoop and swatted him away. That's the biggest spike in crowd interaction tonight--the fans really liked that monster swat. MEM 36, MIN 28

End Q1: Kevin Martin is 5-of-8 tonight with 10 points, and he is keeping the Wolves within striking distance here as we head into the second. Rubio, Love and Brewer each have four, but Minnesota is being outscored in the paint 22-10 and has just one 3-point attempt. It's not a strong suit, but it will be a part of their game that can keep them in it against this powerful inside game of the Grizzlies. Heading into the second, Alexey Shved is entering to join Barea, Budinger, DC and Dieng. MEM 30, MIN 22

Q1 1:47: My wife just text me to ask Zach Randolph about his appearance on Pit Bulls & Parolees. I told her postgame probably was not going to happen, but next time they're in town that could be a shootaround question. For those who watch the show but didn't see the episode, he definitely made an appearance. I saw the episode at my house a month or two ago. Also, he's 1-of-4 tonight with two points, four boards and four assists. MEM 23, MIN 20

Q1 5:23: Minnesota is hanging with Memphis but will need to really shore up if they're going to want to get back into this one for the long haul. The Grizzlies are shooting 69.2 percent from the field and are getting a ton of production from Gasol (3-of-3, 7 points) and Lee (3-of-3, 6 points). The Wolves are shooting 50 percent and have four from Love, Martin and Rubio. But Memphis has a 14-6 edge in the paint, and the Wolves need to make sure that trend doesn't continue. MEM 19, MIN 12

Starters:

Grizzlies: PG-Mike Conley, SG-Courtney Lee, SF-Tayshaun Prince, PF-Zach Randolph, C-Marc Gasol

Wolves: PG-Ricky Rubio, SG-Kevin Martin, SF-Corey Brewer, PF-Kevin Love, C-Ronny Turiaf

PREGAME 6:30 PM: There’s no question this game will have a different look compared to Minnesota’s 101-93 win in Memphis last month. That time around, Marc Gasol was injured and Nikola Pekovic was on the court. This time around, the Wolves will need to try and withstand Gasol’s impact up front without their own valued big man at the center spot.

The Grizzlies certainly have a different look with the reigning Defensive Player of the Year in the middle.

“It’s huge,” coach Rick Adelman said. “Since he’s been back they’re 7-1. They just, he gives them so much. [Zach] Randolph is a better player when he’s on the floor, too.”

Memphis coach Dave Joerger said it’s been a crazy year for Memphis, but he understands every team needs to go through the ups and downs of injuries. It’s a part of playing in the NBA. The Grizzlies did withstand Gasol’s injury as best they could, going 10-14 without him, and since he’s been back things have looked far more like what Memphis did during the playoffs last year.

It just emphasizes how important those two bigs—Gasol and Randolph—are side-by-side on the court for this team.

“Marc is such a valuable piece for us. He anchors our defense and then we use him as, he makes a lot of plays with the basketball or us at the high post,” Joerger said. “And then he and Zach have great chemistry, and he and Mike Conley have great chemistry on pick-and-rolls. It was a big hit for us, and he’s still coming back trying to get back to 100 percent. His minutes are going up, and he feels more comfortable.”

How does that change tonight’s game? For one, the Grizzlies have a chance to station Gasol in the paint and have a little more fire power on combating Kevin Love up front.

“Kevin Love is having a tremendous season, so it’s, do you hurt him at one end or doe she hurt you at the other end with his abilities of that matchup?” Joerger said.

For the Wolves, Adelman said Alexey Shved did not play on Wednesday against the Pelicans purely because of matchups. He wanted to make sure Luc Richard Mbah a Moute was guarding Tyreke Evans as much as he could. His minutes have dipped over the past seven games and he hasn’t played more than nine in five of those seven contests, but Adelman said it isn’t about his performance or about his broken nose—for which he’s currently wearing a mask. He said it’s about putting the right matchup out there.

“It’s going to change from game to game, half to half. I’m not sure,” Adelman said. “It’s just what we need. We don’t know what’s going to happen with Pek out. Sometimes we need offense, we may need scoring. We’re just going to play it by ear.”

PREGAME 3:30 PM: Mike Miller and Ronny Turiaf only overlapped as teammates for part of the shortened 2011-12 lockout season, but what they experienced together will forever link them in NBA history. Turiaf joined the Miami Heat midway through the year, and both he and Miller were on the roster when they each won their first NBA championships.

Tonight, both will be here at Target Center facing off against one another in familiar territory. Turiaf is in his first season with the Wolves, while Miller spent the 2008-09 season here with the club. They met up last night for a bit to talk about their time together in Miami, and it's clear Turiaf thinks highly of his former championship teammate.

"That was my man," Turiaf said with a big smile on his face. "Mike, Shane-o (Battier), James Jones, Chris Bosh, Juwan Howard—those were my guys. I saw him yesterday a little bit, and he's one of those guys that when you're in an environment and you have a guy that everyone can go talk to and everyone can relate to, or he can relate to everybody. He's that type of guy. He's such a great friend, somebody not only that can do something on the basketball court, but he's very cool. He's just a cool, cool cat."

Turiaf said when you're linked with a championship, you're linked forever. That's something the two will always be able to share.

"We were a band of brothers that quote-unquote went to battle to try to earn this right to become a champion," Turiaf said. "Each and every one of us had one moment in this playoff run where we all shined. We all brought something to the table that allowed us to advance or to continue, whatever it may be."

Turiaf and Miller aren't the only ones who share a strong friendship on opposing teams tonight. Ricky Rubio and Marc Gasol, both members of the Spanish National Team, will square off tonight. They've known each other for years and have great respect for one another. Rubio said the two were able to meet up with one another last night, and he attributes Gasol as being valuable not only because of his play on both ends of the court as a center but also because he's somewhat of a point guard at the center spot.

"He's a great guy," Rubio said. "I love him and I wish him the best, but not today."

PREGAME 1:20 PM: Welcome to Target Center, folks, as the Timberwolves get set for an important matchup against Western Conference foe Memphis. There is significance in this game, because the Grizzlies and Wolves are ninth and 10th, respectively, in the West and knocking on the door trying to get into the playoff picture. It’s an important matchup, especially because Memphis is the hottest team in the West having won nine of its last 10 games and will very likely be in consideration for a playoff spot come April.

The Wolves are no slouches right now, either. They’ve won five of six—including two straight since losing Nikola Pekovic indefinitely to bursitis in his right ankle. They’re finding ways to pull out victories in games that often would not have gone Minnesota’s way in the past. That’s an encouraging sign.

Take for instance the 3-1 road trip—that’s the most wins on a trip of that length since 2005. The snapped seven-game losing streaks against Golden State and Chicago in completely different fashions. Golden State was a shootout, while Chicago was a low-scoring, tough shooting affair.

“We’re learning how to win, because I think the last couple games have been tough for us on offense, but our defense has been awesome,” guard Ricky Rubio said. “…It’s kind of different ways of winning, but we just learned how to play different.”

Tonight will be a big challenge. The Grizzlies are finally looking like the team they were during their postseason run to the Western Conference Finals a year ago, mostly due to the return of Marc Gasol but also forming an identity around first-year coach Dave Joerger and the addition of Courtney Lee.

The Wolves won 101-93 last time these two teams met in December, but this meeting should look much different.

“I guess they get back Marc Gasol, and everybody is just forming to their respective positions,” center Ronny Turiaf said. “You add Courtney Lee, I think that spreads the floor a little bit more for them. You add all those pieces, it gives you a recipe for success. It definitely seems to me like they're almost back to a grinding basketball type of game that they was doing … over the years.”

Joerger said part of it certainly is Gasol, but there are other pieces to the puzzle that are falling into place. And he said having some experience in the minor leagues where players were being reassigned all the time helped him navigate the ups and downs early.

“We lost Marc early, we lost Quincy Pondexter early. Tony Allen out for a large part. We’ve added Courtney Lee, we’ve added James Johnson from the minor leagues,” Joerger said. “It’s been one moving part after the other, which is what the minor leagues is.”

If Minnesota can pull this one out with Memphis playing its best basketball of the season, it will be a huge boost for the Wolves heading into the tail end of Saturday’s back-to-back against Atlanta.

“Of course today is a key game,” Rubio said. “We want to move up, we have to beat the teams that are above us. He is one of us, one of those teams and we just want to try to win and close the gap. But I think we are like one game behind them, so it’s just this game. It’s a very important game.”

Here are a few notes for tonight's game:

  • The Wolves lead in the all-time series 41-29, and are 22-12 at home. The Wolves snapped an 11-game losing streak to the Grizzlies with a 101-93 at FedExForum on Dec. 15, 2013.

  • Wolves Notes

  • The Wolves have won 5 of their last 6 games to bring their record to 23-22, the latest in a season the team has been over .500 since 2004-05 (24-21). The last time Minnesota won 6 of 7 games was Nov. 30-Dec. 15, 2012. Minnesota is currently in 10th place in the West, 1.5 games behind Memphis and 2.0 games behind Dallas.

  • Kevin Love ranks 4th in the NBA in scoring (25.0 ppg), 2nd in rebounding (12.9 rpg), and 4th among forwards in assists (4.1 apg) and 3rd in free throws made (281). Only 11 players in NBA history have finished in the Top 3 in scoring and rebounding and only two in the past 30 years (Shaquille O'Neal and Kevin Garnett).

  • Love has recorded eight 25+ point, 15+ rebound, 5+ assist games this season. The rest of the league has recorded five combined (Cousins - 2, Griffin, Howard, Noah). Love has scored 30+ points in the last two games and 12 times total this season (42 career).

  • Ricky Rubio ranks 1st in the NBA in steals at 2.62 per game, 4th in assists with 8.2 apg and 16th in free-throw percentage at 84.8%. He has recorded 5+ steals in a league-best seven games this season.

  • Kevin Martin ranks 4th in the NBA in free throw percentage at 88.6%, 19th in free throws made (187) and 22nd in scoring at 19.3 ppg. Martin ranks 4th in the NBA in points off turnovers at 4.60 ppg.

  • Corey Brewer ranks 8th in the NBA in fast-break points (4.7 ppg) and 17th in steals (1.62 spg). Brewer needs 17 more steals to pass Terrell Brandon (386) for 5th place on the Wolves' all-time steals list.

  • Minnesota ranks 3rd in the league in second-chance points (15.4 ppg) while ranking 4th in points in the paint (47.0 ppg). Pekovic (5.20 ppg) and Love (4.55 ppg) rank 1st and 4th respectively in second-chance scoring and Pekovic is 1st in points in the paint (13.6 ppg).

  • The Wolves have attempted as many or more free throws than their opponent in 42 of 45 games this season. Minnesota ranks 3rd in the NBA in free throws attempts with 26.89 per game, and are allowing the fewest free attempts at 18.22 per game.

  • Grizzlies Notes

  • Memphis has won its last 4 games and 9 of its last 10 contests; the Grizzlies are 12-2 in January. The Grizzlies are 9th in the Western Conference, 0.5 games behind Dallas and 1.5 games ahead of Minnesota. Memphis is 12-7 on the road this season, 8-6 vs. the West.

  • Since Dec. 21, the Grizzlies rank 5th in the NBA in point differential (+6.4), 10th in offensive rating (106.6), 4th in defensive rating (99.4) and 1st in rebounding percentage (.537).

  • Mike Conley is averaging career-highs of 18.2 ppg and 46.2% shooting. He is averaging 22.0 ppg and 6.3 assists in 36.3 mpg in the last 11 games.

  • Zach Randolph has 16 20-point/10-rebound games this season -- only four players (Love, Aldridge, Cousins, Griffin) have more. Randolph is 7th in the NBA with 27 double-doubles.


  • For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Timberwolves and Mark Remme on Twitter.