GameDay LIVE Blog: Wolves vs. Jazz | Jan. 18, 2014

GameDay LIVE Blog: Wolves vs. Jazz | Jan. 18, 2014





Final: The Wolves beat the Jazz 98-72, pretty much controlling this game from wire-to-wire. Pek finished with 27 points and 14 rebounds, Martin had 20 points and Love had 18 points and 13 rebounds. Alec Burks led the Jazz with 18 points. Much more coming tonight on Timberwolves.com so check back throughout the evening. MIN 98, UTA 72

Q4 2:39: Utah is shooting 27.9 percent from the field tonight. The Wolves have a 46-14 advantage in the paint, 18-7 edge in second-chance points, 15-2 in fast-break points and have led by as many as 36. Their 10 games with 30+ point leads this year leads the NBA, and those 10 games of 30+ point leads are more than the Wolves had over the past eight seasons combined (2 in 2012-13, 3 in 2010-11, 1 in 2008-09). MIN 94, UTA 65

Q4 5:59: Shabazz Muhammad just checked into the game with 6:35 left to play in the fourth. Nice to see him get some run here with the game in hand. He's only been on the court for a half minute but he has been pretty active defensively and ran the floor on the fast break showcasing some energy. Obviously excited to get on the floor. MIN 86, UTA 59

Q4 8:02: The Wolves had just six bench points before Chase Budinger hit that corner 3. That was an important shot for Chase, not only because it got the Wolves' bench going just a bit after a sluggish start to the fourth but it also snapped an 0-for-4 personal shooting night. Still, Minnesota is up 28 and cruising. Really the only question that remains is whether or not Shabazz Muhammad will get playing time tonight. He's the only active Wolves player who hasn't logged minutes. Dieng checked in during the first half but only logged four minutes. MIN 82, UTA 54

End Q3: The Wolves are rolling, folks. They're up 79-45 after 3 here at Target Center led by 27 & 14 from Pek, 20 from Martin and 18 & 13 from Love. They've got 65 of the Wolves' 79 points. Alec Burks has 14 for the Jazz but no one else has double figures. Trey Burke has nine on 2-of-10 shooting. The Wolves have a 42-10 points in the paint advantage and a 10-4 edge in second chance points. They have a 12-0 fastbreak points edge. MIN 79, UTA 45

Q3 3:45: Nikola Pekovic (23) and Kevin Martin (20) have combined for 43 points on 17-of-30 shooting tonight. Add in Love's 4-of-8 shooting for 16 points and you've got a nice core from those three producing tonight. They've actually got 59 of the team's 71 points. The Jazz have 10 points from Burks, but no other player is in double figures yet. They're still shooting 22 percent from the field. MIN 71, UTA 39

Q3 6:35: The Wolves' 23 points allowed in the first half is the fewest points the team has allowed in a first half in franchise history. It trails on allowing 21 points in the second half of a game at Indiana in 2006. The 28 points ties the fifth largest halftime lead in team history, too--the largest is 32 points twice. Things haven't gotten much better for Utah. They're shooting 21.7 percent and dipped down to as low as 19 percent earlier this half. They've finally reached 10 field goals tonight, but it took until the midpoint of the third quarter. The Wolves are shooting just 44 percent, but they're in complete control at this point. MIN 64, UTA 36

Halftime: The Wolves are bringing a massive lead into the half, up 51-23 over the Jazz at home. This would qualify as the type of start and energy we were looking for out of the Wolves. Minnesota is 17-of-40 from the field but has 16 from K-Mart, 13 from Pek and 10 points/10 rebounds from Love. Meanwhile, Ricky has four points, six assists and four boards. Minnesota has a 22-6 points in the paint advantage, and Utah is overall struggling from the field. Reggie Evans just missed about four putbacks at the rim, which in many ways signifies the Jazz's first half. They are shooting 8-of-38 from the field. MIN 81, UTA 23

Q2 4:32: Great ball movement by the Wolves on that last possession. After the Rubio steal, Love bounces it out to Brewer in the corner, who slings it over to K-Mart at the top of the key, who finds Rubio at the break for a 3. That puts the Wolves up 36-19. MIN 36, UTA 19

Q2 5:37: The Wolves and Jazz have combined to shoot 18-of-61 tonight from the field, including 4-of-13 from the 3-point line. One intriguing stat is the Jazz are 2-of-7 from the free-throw line tonight. Trey Burke continues to struggle--he's now 1-of-7 from the field. The Wolves started the quarter with their reserves in the game, but the starters are back out there to see if they can expand this lead. MIN 31, UTA 19

End Q1: The Wolves have a nine-point lead heading into the second and are getting some good minutes from Love and Pek early on. Love has a pair of 3-pointers and leads the team with nine points and eight boards. Pek has seven points and four boards, while Kevin Martin has five points. Favors has six for the Jazz to lead Utah's roster. Trey Burke started this one out cold shooting 1-of-4 with three points. MIN 23, UTA 14

Q1 1:20 Utah is coming out shooting poorly on the offensive end. They're 5-of-18 from the field (27.8 percent), although they are 2-of-4 from 3. Their saving grace is that Minnesota is 7-of-19 from the field, including a combined 2-of-10 from Rubio and Martin. Love already has eight rebounds, and Pek has four. Minnesota has a 12-4 advantage in the paint. MIN 20, UTA 12


Q1 5:36: Nice, active start by the Timberwolves tonight. That's very encouraging considering the tough start to that Kings game at home on Wednesday. Kevin Martin already 2-of-3 with four points, while Pekovic has five on 2-of-4 shooting. He and Love have seven total boards compared to Utah's three. That's important. The Jazz are 27th in the league in rebounding, and this is an area where the Wolves can certainly hold a big advantage tonight. MIN 13, UTA 9

Starters:

Jazz:
PG-Trey Burke, SG-Alec Burks, SF-Marvin Williams, PF-Richard Jefferson, C-Derrick Favors

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

PREGAME 6:30 PM: Rick Adelman talked a bit about Kevin Martin's trending play over the last 6-7 weeks after a torrid start in November, trying to answer why there has been a bit of disparity between the two parts of the season. It's hard to maintain that early rate of offensive success--Martin shot 44.8 percent from 3-point range in November and scored 23.1 points per game (including three 30-point games and 11 20-point games). Since then, however, he averaged 15.3 points per game in December (33.3 percent 3FGs) and 16.5 points per game in January (36.0 percent 3FGs)--and he's scored 20 points six times in October, December and January combined.

Part of that is attempts-based. He shot 17.4 times per game in November, but he's averaged about 13.0 shots per game in the ensuing month and a half.

"Kevin, I just think needs to be more aggressive in his shot," Adelman said. "He just hesitates, and he's not going at it with the same aggression that he was before. If he gets that open look, he's got to take it."

Adelman coached Martin during K-Mart's first two years in Sacramento and again in Houston from 2010-11. He said it's hard for him to compare those stages of Martin's career to his current play.

"I think it goes hand-in-hand with how the team's doing, too," Adelman said. "I think when there's a team that's up and down, you know, it has an effect on players. And I can't tel you, because when I had him that was early in his career and then in Houston for a short time, but I just think for our team to be successful we've got to have a guy that we can rely on night in and night out."

PREGAME 6:15 PM: From a basketball perspective, it's fitting that Ty Corbin is in the Twin Cities tonight. He's here coaching the Jazz on the same day the Metrodome's roof was deflated on the East side of downtown Minneapolis. Corbin was one of the headliners on the inaugural Wolves team in 1989-90 that played one lone season in the Dome before moving into the brand new Target Center in 1990.

And he's still loves looking back on those memories.

Whether it was the notoriously long runs to and from the locker rooms or the big, loud, warm fan base, Corbin said it was a special time to be here in Minnesota. "This was special, man," he said. "I mean, every night fans came out--and the weather, for me, the weather being so cold--it didn't bother them. They came out adn watched the games anyway and supported the team. We had a great time."


Since the Dome was the regular home for the NFL's Vikings and the MLB's Twins, there was an awful lot of seating real estate to work with back in that inaugural season. Couple that with it being the first time in three decades that the NBA was back in town, and fans came in droves. They packed an NBA-record 1,072,572 into the building that season, including another league record 26,160 on average per game. They had six games in which they packed in more than 35,000, including a team-record 49,551 against Denver on April 17, 1990.

Corbin played 2 1/2 seasons with the Wolves, averaging 16.2 points and 7.8 boards during his stint.

"Great memories, man," Corbin said. "The first couple years of the franchise, tremendous fans, and playing in the Dome--I saw they took the roof down today on it. And moving into this building. I'm always excited to get back."

PREGAME 3:30 PM: Welcome back to Target Center, folks, as the Wolves get set to take on divisional rival Utah tonight here in the Twin Cities. Tonight’s game is not televised locally—it can be seen on NBA League Pass as well as listened to as usual on 830 WCCO-AM. Be sure to follow along with the in-game blog throughout the night right here on Timberwolves.com.

This is a critical game for Minnesota. We’ve been saying it for a few weeks and coach Rick Adelman admitted the stretch of games since Christmas have been especially pivotal, but tonight’s game really is a crossroads for this Wolves team. They’re sitting three games under .500 for the first time this season after battling to get over that .500 plateau for essentially seven weeks. They’ve lost four of five and five of seven, and with back-to-back games against the team with the worst record in the Western Conference coming up, Minnesota certainly needs to take advantage.

Now, more than ever, the Wolves need to push through any intensity and accountability issues they’ve faced in the past couple weeks and turn a corner.

If you look at last night’s 94-89 loss in Toronto, you see a clear-cut difference between the Wolves and Raptors in two areas: One, Toronto imposed an early lead and found a way to close out any Wolves runs in the final quarter. They saw Minnesota make its move but simply didn’t let them gain control. And secondly, the 3-point shooting was the biggest difference. Toronto shot 45 percent from deep, while Minnesota shot just under 17 percent. Over its last three games, Minnesota is shooting 29.1 percent from 3.

That trend needs to change tonight.

Utah might be without leading scorer Gordon Hayward—he’s missed time with a hip injury and is questionable. That would take 17 points per game off the scoreboard right there that the Jazz need to make up. It will be the first time Minnesota fans will see point guard Trey Burke in person, and he’ll definitely have all eyes on him as he matchup against Ricky Rubio. Burke is averaging 19.9 points and 5.8 assists per game this year while shooting 34.8 percent from 3.

Minnesota needs to take advantage of its strengths while getting a sprinkling of some perimeter shooting. The Jazz are 25th in the league in rebounding, which plays right into Minnesota’s hands with Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic patrolling the paint. If those two control the glass, it should open up second chance points and additional points in the paint opportunities.

Utah average 95.0 points per game, and gives up 101.0 points a night. Minnesota is still averaging 106.6 points per game and has a plus-4.2 point differential despite being under .500—they are the only team in the league with that distinction—so they can put up numbers. Playing at home, the Wolves need to get the crowd in it early and often and ride that through.

Now is the time.

Here are a few pregame news/notes for tonight’s contest:

  • The Wolves trail in the all-time series 32-68, and are 21-29 at home. Utah swept (4-0) the season series in 2012-13 and has won the last five meetings.


  • Wolves Notes

  • Kevin Love ranks 4th in the NBA in scoring (25.3 ppg), 2nd in rebounding (13.0 rpg), and 5th among forwards in assists (3.9 apg). 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).

  • Nikola Pekovic is averaging 21.6 points, on 54.3% shooting, and 9.8 rebounds (5.1 offensive) over the last 14 games. Pekovic ranks 14th in the NBA in field goal percentage (52.7%) and 18th in rebounding (9.1 rpg).

  • Minnesota ranks 2nd in the league in second-chance points (15.7 ppg) while ranking 6th in points in the paint (46.7 ppg). Pekovic (5.46 ppg) and Love (4.48 ppg) rank 1st and 4th respectively in second-chance scoring and Pekovic is 1st in points in the paint (13.5 ppg).

  • Ricky Rubio ranks 1st in the NBA in steals at 2.66 per game, 6th in assists with 8.1 apg and 18th in free-throw percentage at 84.9%. He has recorded 5+ steals in a league-best six games this season. Rubio needs 3 steals to pass Christian Laettner (333) for 10th on the Wolves' all-time steals list.

  • After tallying five points against Oklahoma City on Jan. 4, Minnesota’s bench is averaging 35.3 points per game over its last six games.

  • The Wolves have made 829 free throws to just 528 for their opponents, a differential of +7.72 per game. Minnesota has a chance to record the largest free throw differential since 1970-71 (Denver +7.77, 1981-82). The Wolves have attempted as many or more free throws than their opponent in 37 of 39 games this season, including the last 29 games. Minnesota only had fewer attempts from the charity stripe at Denver on Nov. 15 and at LA Clippers on Nov. 11.


  • Jazz Notes

  • Utah is 6-4 in its last 10 games. The Jazz started the season 1-14 and is 13-13 since. The team has a 6-16 road record, including a 3-10 record on the road vs. Western Conference teams.

  • The Jazz rank 27th in the NBA in scoring (95.0 ppg) and 27th in point differential at -6.0 ppg.

  • Derek Favors is averaging career-highs in both points (13.6 ppg) and rebounds (9.1 rpg) this season. He is averaging 15.3 ppg and 12.7 rpg over the last three games. He has 13 double-doubles this season after recording nine in 2012-13.

  • Trey Burke is averaging 18.3 points and 10.3 assists over the last three games. He is shooting 50% (6-for-12) from three-point range over that span. Utah is 6-1 when Burke scores 20+ points.



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