GameDay LIVE Blog: Wolves at Jazz | Feb. 22, 2014





Final: That's a wrap, folks. The Wolves open up this five-game road trip with a convincing 121-104 win over the Utah Jazz tonight in Salt Lake City. Kevin Love dominated, particularly in the second half, shooting 11-of-20 and scoring 37 points along with 12 boards and 10 assists for his first career triple-double. Rubio had 15 points, seven assists and six rebounds, while Corey Brewer and Chase Budinger each had 13 points. Great night overall for the Wolves, who move to 27-28 on the year and have a shot to get back to .500 at Portland tomorrow night. More to come here at Timberwolves.com tonight so stay tuned. MIN 121, UTA 104

Q4 2:37: The best part about this game tonight is it allows the Wolves to rest some of their starters early. Brewer did play 37 and DC did play 33, but Love only played 32 and that's important considering how much of an adjusted role he'll have without Pek and Turiaf available. With Portland coming up tomorrow night, saving legs is crucial. MIN 116, UTA 98

Q4 5:11: Love is likely done for the night and the rest of the starters will follow suit pretty soon, too. The Wolves are up 19 with 5:11 to play and have been dominant for most of this game, especially since being tied 41-41 midway through the second. We'll likely see reserves through most of the rest of this game. Well-done by the Timberwolves, who have four players in double-figures and two more knocking on the door. Gorgui Dieng, by the way, has eight points and seven boards. Can he get that first double-double? MIN 111, UTA 92

Q4 8:43: Congratulations to Kevin Love, who just registered his first career triple-double. He'd been getting close a lot this season, but this was the night he broke through. He has 37 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists. The triple-double came on a pretty outlet pass to Corey Brewer, who ducked a defender and scored the layup. He immediately pointed back to K-Love acknowledging the feat. Love has been dominate all night, and the numbers across the board prove it. MIN 103, UTA 84

End Q3: Love is just being silly now. He has 34 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists. He put up his fourth straight 30-point game, tying KG's franchise record. He has his ninth straight 25 & 10 game, which hasn't been done since Karl Malone in 1991-92, and he is one assist away from his first career triple-double. Budinger has 13 points, Rubio has 12 points, six assists and six rebounds, and Brewer has 11. For the Jazz, Kanter has 23 points, Burks has 15 and Jefferson has 12. MIN 94, UTA 81

Q3 4:00: Love is feeling it right now. He's 4-of-5 from 3-point range this quarter, and overall he's shooting 8-of-16 with 27 points, nine boards and eight assists. We might be seeing his fourth straight 30-point game, tying a franchise record, to go along with his first career triple double. Still some work to do, but he's close. Meanwhile, the Wolves are outscoring Utah 28-17 this half and are up 19 with 16 minutes to go in this one. MIN 85, UTA 66

Q3 9:28: A couple of things here: One, Kevin Love came out and hit a couples 3 early on here to set the tone, and the Wolves are currently on a 10-3 run that pushed this lead up to 69-52 with 9:28 left in the third. Minnesota is 3-for-4 this quarter, including those two 3s for Love and a midrange jumper for DC. Also, Love is up to 20 points, seven boards and seven assists. Could this be his first triple-double of his career? He's been close a few times this year. It's only a matter of time before he cracks that barrier. MIN 69, UTA 52

Halftime: Big momentum swing at the end of that second quarter. After Williams hit a long 2, Brewer leaked out and got a long outlet pass in transition. He scored, drew the foul and hit the free throw to completely cancel out that previous big basket by Utah. Brewer has seven tonight and has brought a lot of energy. Meanwhile, Love has 12 points and both Budinger and Rubio have 10. For the Jazz, Kanter has 12 and Williams has five. The Wolves are getting some energy and production from their bench, and after the Jazz tied the game up the Wolves went on an 18-8 run. Nice push late in the second for Minnesota. MIN 59, UTA 49

Q2 2:48: The Jazz tied the game up at 41-41, but the Wolves answered right back with Love finding Rubio inside for the layup and 1. Rubio hit the free throw and pushed the lead back up to three. Meanwhile, both teams are struggling a bit close up. I swear both teams missed a combined four shots within three feet over the past minute. Can't confirm right now, but it sure felt like it. MIN 44, UTA 41


Q2 5:34: You'll want to see Shabazz Muahmmad's dunk he had midway through the second. I'll try to get a video of that from the league in a bit if I can. He took an alley-oop feed from J.J. Barea in transition and threw down on Diante Garrett with another Jazz player behind him. Very pretty, and the whole Wolves' bench jumped up and cheered after that one. That's Shabazz's first FG of the night. He's 1-of-2. Meanwhile, Gorgui has a career-high six points to go along with four boards. MIN 39, UTA 36

Q2 8:56: Adelman is definitely getting creative with his rotations early in this game. He had Barea, Muhammad, Mbah a Moute, DC and Gorgui early in the second. Dieng is doing well down low, he's got four points and four boards early on. But he also has two fouls in five minutes of play, and he missed a pair of free throws. Speaking of free throws, the Wolves are 5-of-12 from the line tonight. That's going to be a factor in this game if they don't start hitting those free throws with more efficiency. MIN 81, UTA 29

End Q1: The Wolves lead by five as we head into the second, and overall that was a nice quarter for Minnesota considering the new rotations they're putting together. With Pek and Turiaf out, Love stepped into the 5 spot and put up 10 points and three rebounds, while Dante Cunningham was able to patrol at the 4 and get a few nice looks at the basket. Rubio pushed the pace, and Brewer was able to get to the rim on the baseline. We also got to see Gorgui Dieng come in early and get some minutes, and he altered a shot at the rim plus had a nice move in the paint offensively on Rudy Gobert. Minnesota has outscored Utah 83-51 in three first quarters they've played against one another this season. MIN 26, UTA 21

Q1 2:06: Minnesota is holding strong on the offensive end, slowed down a bit in the last four minutes but are still shooting 53 percent from the field. Love has eight points and two boards. Should he hit 30 points tonight, he'd tie Kevin Garnett for the franchise's record with four straight 30-point games. He also could extend his 25-point, 10-rebound streak to nine games, which would be the league's longest since Karl Malone had 10 in 1991-92. Charles Barkley had nine straight in the 1989-90 season. Rubio has five points, two boards and two assists. Brewer has four points. MIN 22, UTA 19

Q1 5:53: First off, the big screen here in-game is tremendous. When you look at a photo of the big screen in relation to the court and the players, it looks like Mount Rushmore.



Secondly, the Jazz opened up with a couple quick baskets but went cold. They're shooting 3-of-11 from the field and are trailing by five. The Wolves have been shooting well from the start, partially because they're doing some of the things we talked about after the win over the Pacers. They're getting looks in at the basket thanks to ball movement and player motion--Corey Brewer has four points thanks to a couple nice baseline cuts--and they're also pushing the pace. Ricky Rubio got out and running early on here in Utah. So we'll see if that holds up, but so far, so good when it comes to pushing tempo and moving the ball. MIN 14, UTA 9

Starters:

Wolves:
PG-Ricky Rubio, SG-Chase Budinger, SF-Corey Brewer, PF-Dante Cunningham, C-Kevin Love

Jazz: PG-Trey Burke, SG-Gordon Hayward, SF-Richard Jefferson, PF-Marvin Williams, C-Enes Kanter

PREGAME 7:30 PM: No Pekovic tonight for the Timberwolves, and on the Jazz’s end they will be without Derrick Favors as well. That at least means the two will cancel each other out when it comes to missing some depth at the 5. For the Jazz, they’re still winless (0-8) without Favors, and for the Wolves they’ll need to re-evaluate before tomorrow’s game and see if Pekovic is available to play against the Blazers.

Coach Rick Adelman said he’ll start Kevin Love at the 5 tonight and will insert Dante Cunningham at t 4. What that means is the Wolves will need to try and find the right matchups throughout the game having Love play center, and they’ll have to watch his minutes because Minnesota does have three games in four nights before that lengthy break in Phoenix later next week.

“He can do it, but I worry about who he plays against and we’re asking an awful lot of him right now,” Adelman said of Love. “And that’s just going to add to it. We can’t afford to have him in foul trouble. We can’t, we’re going to have to find a way to protect him a little bit in there. We’ll just see how it goes, the next two games.”

Minnesota will likely need to include more minutes for rookie Gorgui Dieng at the 5, and that means they’ll need Gorgui to be able to hold his own in the paint without getting into foul trouble. That’s the biggest issue with young centers—Pek went through it, and Gorgui is going through it this year. He needs to be able to alter shots, not just block shots, and offensively he needs to be consistent setting picks and rolling.

“Don’t try to do too much, so it’s a lot coming at him at once,” Adelman said. “He’ll give us minutes here and there, but like we talked about you lose Pek and you have Ronny [Turiaf] stepping in. Now you lose Ronny, and the depth starts to become a real issue.”

When it comes to Love playing the 5, Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said it does pose some problems for his club. Like we talked about earlier today, Love stepping out at the center spot means he’ll be bringing someone with him.

“Five guys tend to go back to the basket, go back to the paint,” Corbin said. “He’ll set screens and pop out ,so the rotations have to be quick and when you close out, you have to close out all the way so you don’t let him shoot the 3 ball. He’s very capable of making them. It’s a different look.”

Now, for those asking about Shabazz Muhammad’s minutes on the wing Adelman said he’d like to get the rookie more minutes but he needs to find the right way to do it. As usual, when you insert a new player into the rotation it will come at the expense of someone else’s minutes. Now, though, with DC starting at the 4 and Kevin Martin out at the 2-guard spot, this is a chance for Muhammad to get more spot minutes. If DC comes out of the game, that means Robbie Hummel and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute will be the two guys best suited to pick up minutes at power forward. So that leaves Corey Brewer, Chase Budinger, Alexey Shved and Muhammad playing the more traditional wing roles. Watch for that as we move into the next couple games.

For the Jazz, not having Favors affects the team on both ends of the court but in particular always changes how they protect the basket.

“Derrick is especially [important] on the defensive end, how we play pick-and-roll situations,” Corbin said. “He’ll keep you in the paint, protect the rim. We need to do it collectively now with him being out.”

PREGAME 6:15 PM: We are inside EnergySolutions Arena, and Pek is out on the floor working with Jack Sikma and testing out that ankle. Still no word about his availability tonight or in the future, but he's testing his footwork on the low block, at the elbow and moving from the 3-point line in. Good to see him moving without showing signs of slowing down because of the bursitis.



PREGAME 4 PM: Welcome to beautiful Salt Lake City where the Wolves will take on the Jazz tonight at EnergySolutions Arena. Get set, because we’ve got a few things to figure out before we tip off tonight at 8 p.m. CT on Fox Sports North and 830 WCCO-AM.

For as much as the Timberwolves have question marks up front due to injuries, the Utah Jazz are in a similar predicament as they face Minnesota tonight at EnergySolutions Arena.

Center/forward Derrick Favors missed the last two games for Utah coming out of the All-Star Break with a sprained right hip. He didn’t travel with Utah to face the Blazers last night and is officially listed as day-to-day heading into tonight.

What does that mean for Utah? Since Dec. 1, the Jazz are 15-12 when Favors registers minutes in games. That’s a good mark for a Utah squad that is 19-35 overall this season. But the Jazz are 0-8 when Favors does not play in games this year.

It does show the level of importance Favors has, and he certainly was a big part of the team’s plans when they restructured their front court in the offseason. Utah let Al Jefferson head to Charlotte and Paul Millsap—who was an All-Star this year—head to Atlanta. Favors and Enes Kanter, both under 25 years old, were given the opportunity to gain more minutes in the front court.

Favors is averaging 12.9 points and 9.0 rebounds this year, but in his one game against Minnesota he shot 3-of-10 and registered eight points and 10 boards.

“You know, he’s their big and very versatile,” forward Dante Cunningham said. “He moves very well with and without the ball. It’s tough for them to kind of get their presence and their guards and their bigs. It’s definitely a big difference without him.”

For the Wolves, we’ll find out likely around gametime if Pek is able to go. My thought is even if he does play, it will be limited minutes in hopes they can get him out there ready to roll against Portland on Sunday night. Look for Love to slide to center and Cunningham to jump into the power forward spot, although when that does happen DC said it’s not necessarily a true center-power forward relationship.

“With me and Kev, it’s more of a read and react thing,” Cunningham said. “He’s the pick-and-pop guy, so I’m going to be cutting to the hole a lot more, slashing. But a lot of times his reads are if the guy jumps out high he’ll roll so I have to go and get high, you know, it really doesn’t matter cross matchups regardless whoever is first big. We’re just going to match up and help each other.”

We have seen Love impact games from that center position because of how he stretches the floor. The best example might be his 51-point effort two years ago in OKC. He technically started at the 5 with Pekovic out, and he helped draw Kendrick Perkins away from the basket. Not only did Love score 51 but J.J. Barea put up a triple-double.

Not that we’ll see that type of performance tonight, but it gives the Wolves a different look.

As for pushing the minutes, will Love’s body be able to handle extended minutes until Pekovic and Turiaf are healthy again?

“I don’t know, that remains to be seen,” Love said. “I know that I’m going to have to log a lot of minutes with those guys out at this point, but you know, whatever coach asks me I’ll try to go out there and do.”

Lots to watch tonight, so follow along as we get set for tonight.

A couple other thoughts/observations:

I can see why it’s so hard to win in Utah when the Jazz are rolling. EnergySolutions Arena’s setup puts all the fans right on top of the action from Row 1 all the way to the rafters. It’s a very vertical arena. And now, they’ve got an enormous scoreboard.



Secondly, the Jazz did a great job putting together a plaza that honors their golden era and their two greatest players in team history. Karl Malone and John Stockton are represented with bronze statues out front of the arena and look out onto the intersection that bears both of their names.



And lastly, it is Wolves television analyst Jim Petersen’s birthday. Great guy, one of the coolest people to work with and obviously one of the best analysts in the NBA. Be sure to send him a happy birthday tweet if you get a chance.



More to come throughout the night, so follow along.


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