GameDay Blog: Wolves at Hornets - Jan. 11, 2013

Mark Remme
Wolves Editor/Writer

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Final: It's over here in New Orleans, as the Wolves lost 104-92 tonight against the Hornets. Ridnour led the team with 20 points tonight, followed by Pek with 18, Kirilenko with 17 and Kirilenko with 12. Greivis Vasquez finished with 18 points tonight and Eric Gordon chipped in 16 for the Hornets. Check back to Timberwolves.com throughout the night for analysis, highlights and photos from tonight's game. NOH 104, MIN 92

Q4 2:50: The Wolves scored 71 points in the paint en route to 113 points the last time they were in town facing the Hornets. Tonight they started out strong in the lane, but since the first half they really haven't been able to break through. In the second half they've scored just eight points in the paint. Meanwhile, they're not getting it done on the perimeter, either. Minnesota is shooting 13 percent from 3-point land (2-of-15). NOH 93, MIN 82

Q4 5:34: This one isn't over yet but the Wolves need to make a move quick if they're going to get back in this game. They've been outscored 71-45 since the beginning of the second quarter, and they aren't getting the stops necessary to try and make a move with just under six minutes left to go in the game. Ryan Anderson has been tough to stop off the bench, he's got 15 points. But the biggest issue is their own scoring. They've dipped to 43 percent shooting on the night. NOH 85, MIN 74

End Q3: Minnesota continues to struggle right now offensively. It's been a rough stretch since the midway point of the second quarter through the end of the third. The Wolves shot 4-of-16 from the field in the third quarter and were outscored 24-12. You wonder if the lack of depth is catching up with them a bit. New Orleans has played 13 players in the game tonight, while the Wolves have played all nine of their players at some point. They're starting the fourth with Rubio, Shved, AK, D-Will and Stiemsma on the floor. NOH 70, MIN 61

Q3 2:07: In the first 12 minutes of this game, the Hornets scored 14 points. They've scored 50 in the 22 minutes since, and with 2 minutes left in the 3rd the Wolves are trailing by six. They've gone cold from the field this quarter, shooting just 4-of-14 so far in the third. NOH 64, MIN 58

Q3 6:29: We've got a tie game here in New Orleans as the Hornets just knotted it up 50-50 with a slam dunk by Anthony Davis. They cut it to 46-44 with four quick points to start the half, and then completed the comeback with a 6-0 run heading into this current timeout. That completely erases an 18-point lead the Wolves had earlier in this game. Terry Porter is going with a combination of Rubio, Ridnour, AK, DC and Pek to try and get this lead back. MIN 50, NOH 50

Halftime: New Orleans ended the half with five straight points to make it a six point game heading into the half, a dangerous spot for this Timberwolves team considering how well they played throughout most of the half and at one point held an 18-point lead. This Hornets team has won three straight games against the Mavericks, Spurs and Rockets, so they've been able to hang with and beat teams in playoff position. At the half Ridnour leads the team with 13 points and is a perfect 4-of-4 from the field, Pekovic has 12 points on 5-of-9 shooting and Derrick Williams has seven points off the bench. For the Hornets, Ryan Anderson has 11 points off the bench, Eric Gordon has 10 and Greivis Vasquez has six. MIN 46, NOH 40

Q2 1:19: Pek was dominant in the first but the Wolves hadn't been able to get him going until about two minutes ago when he scored his first basket of the second quarter. Moments later, Luke Ridnour connected from 3-point land to stay a perfect 4-of-4 from the field tonight, and Alexey Shved just had a wide open drive and slam that puts Minnesota back up 11 after a Hornets 10-0 run cut it to single digits. MIN 46, NOH 35

Q2 5:12: Wolves still up 13 and could be able to take advantage of some Hornets foul trouble here if they continue to play strong on the offensive end. Greivis Vasquez just went to the bench with three fouls and Anthony Davis sat moments ago after picking up his second foul--a charge drawn by Dante Cunningham. Derrick Williams has put together a nice second quarter so far. He's got five of his seven points in the second and is shooting 3-of-5 from the field. MIN 39, NOH 26

Q2 8:49: Andrei Kirilenko just joined elite company by picking up his 1,000th career steal. He now is the 15th player in NBA history to compile 1,000 career steals, 1,000 career blocks and 2,000 career assists. It's a pretty exclusive group that includes the likes of Olajuwon, Parish, Abdul-Jabbar, Garnett, Robinson and Ewing. Timberwolves assistant coach Jack Sikma is also part of that group. For a guy who has done so much in so many different areas for this team this year, it's fitting he joined such an exclusive group. MIN 38, NOH 21

End Q1: Great start for the Timberwolves, much needed after struggling in the second half against the Thunder. Minnesota held the Hornets to just six field goals and 14 points in the first quarter, and on the offensive end they shot 55 percent and committed just one turnover. Pekovic and Ridnour each have 10 points, with Pek 4-for-6 and Ridnour 3-for-3. Kirilenko also has five points. Monty Williams wanted to try and control the Wolves in the paint tonight after giving up 71 points there on Dec. 14, but Minnesota already has 20 in this one. MIN 29, NOH 14

Q1 2:33: The Wolves have looked great offensively so far tonight, and it's coupled with a pretty tough start on the offensive end for the Hornets. Minnesota just rallied off a 16-0 run before Ryan Anderson ended the Hornets' scoring drought. The Wolves are shooting 58.8 percent tonight, while Anderson's reverse lay-up was NOLA's fifth field goal of the night. In other news, Ricky Rubio just checked in for the first time tonight. Remember he is on a 24-minute limit this evening. MIN 25, NOH 11

Q1 7:54: Nikola Pekovic has been a handful for every team the Wolves have played in the last two weeks, and he started off tonight's game doing work inside. Just like last time Minnesota played here on Dec. 14 when he scored 31, Pek has been pushing his way into the lane with some runners as well as cleaning up around the hoop, and he scored the first six points of tonight's game. The Hornets then went on a 9-3 run to tie things up punctuated by Eric Gordon's nice drive, foul and free throw. But Andrei Kirilenko has scored four straight points to put Minnesota back up on top. MIN 13, NOH 9

Starters:

Timberwolves:
PG-Luke Ridnour, SG-Alexey Shved, SF-Andrei Kirilenko, PF-Dante Cunningham, C-Nikola Pekovic

Hornets: PG-Greivis Vasquez, SG-Eric Gordon, SF-Al-Farouq Aminu, PF-Anthony Davis, C-Robin Lopez

Pregame 6:45 PM: A quick update here on minute restrictions. Wolves athletic trainer Gregg Farnam said pregame that Ricky Rubio will have a 24-minute limit tonight against the Hornets. That's two more minutes than his previous season-high, which was Wednesday at Oklahoma City. That's good news for the Wolves, because with just three healthy guards every extra minute helps tonight. I'll be back with starting lineups shortly.

Pregame 6:35 PM: Hornets coach Monty Williams isn't interested in winning streaks. Yes, New Orleans is on a three-gamer right now, but Williams said if you focus on the good streaks you must also focus on the bad ones. And the last time Minnesota was in town, they helped New Orleans build what would eventually become an 11-game losing streak throughout December.

"We try not to look at those things and start to build upon the good things we have been doing, which is rebounding at a 78 percent rage defensively," Williams said. "That's something we can take pride in. Our guards are better at pick and roll defense. But at the same time, we're playing a team tonight that had 70 points in the paint the last time we played them, so we have to play better defense tonight to win."

Last time out, Nikola Pekovic was nearly unstoppable. He scored 31 points on 14-of-18 shooting, while Andrei Kirilenko scored 21 points and added 11 rebounds. Williams said Kevin Love was a big reason for both of those guys having big nights, because the Hornets were so concerned with shutting him down. This time, Love won't be in uniform. We'll see at the top of the hour how that affects what Pek and Kirilenko are able to do offensively. In recent games, it hasn't mattered much as Pek is averaging 17 points and 10.6 rebounds in January.

"I think we focus so much on Kevin, that Kirilenko is going back door because you're paying attention to Love," Williams said. "He spreads the floor. Pekovic is ducking in on the back side because Love has the ball and is going to shoot a three so you have to guard him. I think that's the Kevin Love effect, but at the same time [Kirilenko] was dynamic in the game. he was dunking the ball and running the floor defensively. They have a number of guys that can have an effect on the game, so we need to take care of all of them."

Pregame 6:20 PM: Greetings from New Orleans Arena here in the shadows of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Tonight the Timberwolves visit the Hornets for the first time since beating New Orleans 113-102 here on Dec. 14. But these are two drastically different looking teams since that victory, and tonight Minnesota hopes to battle through some increasingly bad health and put themselves above .500 once again.

They’ll need to do it with nine healthy guys, as guard J.J. Barea (back spasms) and forward Lazar Hayward (ill) are both out tonight. Wolves coach Terry Porter joked about stepping into a player/coach role for the evening to bolster the depth (no doubt he could help from behind the arc), but on a serious note the Wolves will be mixing and matching quite a bit to try and rest players as much as possible.

The interesting part of this dynamic is the Wolves have three healthy centers in Nikola Pekovic, Greg Stiemsma and Lou Amundson, which is the same as the number of healthy guards they have (Luke Ridnour, Ricky Rubio and Alexey Shved). Last game in OKC the Wolves put Derrick Williams back at the 2-guard spot for a bit, and they might end up doing some creative rotations like that again tonight.

“You can’t try to predict how you’re going to sub when you have such limited rotations as far as guys playing out of position,” Porter said. “Early foul trouble will come into play, and how the game is being played out….But it’s no different. You’ve got to pass it, you’ve got to shoot it, you’ve got to make it.”

Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. here on Fox Sports North and 830 WCCO-AM. Be sure to follow along right here for all the pregame news and notes and live in-game updates throughout the night.


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