GameDay Blog: Wolves vs. Nuggets - Nov. 21, 2012




Mark Remme
Wolves Editor/Writer

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Final: The Wolves lose tonight 101-94 tonight at Target Center as the Nuggets come back from 17 points down. Kevin Love had a big night in his return, scoring 34 points and adding 14 rebounds. JJ Barea had 12 points and Nikola Pekovic added 10. For the Nuggets, Gallinari had 19 points, while Iguodala and Lawson each finished with 18. More to come from the postgame locker room. DEN 101, MIN 94


Q4 20.4: Love had 32 points and 14 rebounds tonight, and he just hit another pair of free throws to bring Minnesota to within 96-92 with less than a minute left. But a big offensive rebound by Iguodala put Lawson on the line. He hit 1-of-2, and the Wolves now trail 97-92 with teh ball and 20.4 left on the clock. DEN 97, MIN 92

Q4 2:41: Kenneth Faried just gave the Nuggets their largest lead of the night with a two-handed flush that put Denver up 92-87. The Wolves came back on the other end with an offensive rebound from Kevin Love, who was fouled and is headed to the line. Love just hit a pair of free throws in his last trip to the line, and he's got 27 points and 12 rebounds in his regular season debut. But there's 2:41 left in this game and these free throws are crucial as the Wolves look to come back. After leading by as many as 17 in the first half, Minnesota will need another fourth quarter rally to pull this game out. DEN 92, MIN 87

Q4 4:45: The Nuggets keep trying to create separation from Minnesota in this second half, but the Wolves won't let them. After Denver took its largest lead of the night at 84-80, Minnesot answered back with a 5-0 run capped off by a JJ Barea wide open 3-pointer from the wing. Barea unleashed a yell after draining the shot, showing the emotion and late-game energy Adelman was talking about pregame with getting these injured players back. Ridnour, Shved, AK, Cunningham and Love on the floor as we come out of this latest timeout. MIN 85, DEN 84

Q4 8:46: Jordan Hamilton have the Nuggets a 78-75 lead with a 3-pointer, but Barea answered right back with one of his own to tie the game at 78-78. And after a Barea steal and missed shot, Lou Amundson rattled the rim with a monster put-back slam to give the Wolves an 80-78 lead. Shved has been active in the last few minutes. Josh Howard just missed a wide-open 3-pointer but the ball went out of bounds on Denver and Minnesota will inbound momentarily. MIN 80, DEN 78

End Q3: The Nuggets tied the game on a monster jam in traffic by Iguodala, then after a free throw by Minnesota took the lead at 69-68 on an alley-oop dunk by JaVale McGee. But Minnesota answered right back with a 5-0 run to end the quarter highlighted by a 3-pointer by Shved that helped Minnesota retake the lead. The Wolves had a tough time containing Iguodala in that third quarter, and that will be a key in the fourth with 12 minutes to play. MIN 63, DEN 69

Q3 6:05: The Nuggets opened up the half on a 14-2 run, and as Adelman calls a timeout the Wolves lead 65-61. Iguodala is heating up; he's not 3-of-4 from 3-point range tonight and has hit all three this quarter. Love is hovering around his first double-double of the season. He's got 22 and 9 as we come out of this mid-quarter timeout. MIN 65, DEN 61

Q3 8:53: Things getting a little emotional early in the third. As the Nuggets opened up a 11-2 run to begin the third quarter, Kevin Love and Luke Ridnour have each gotten technical fouls. Crowd letting referees know they're not happy with either call. Meanwhile, Nuggets opened up the half 3-of-4 from the field and are cutting this lead down. Denver is statistically the worst free-throw shooting team in the league, entering the game at 66 percent, but they're shooting 10-of-12 tonight from the stripe. MIN 60, DEN 55

Q3 10:40: The Wolves opened up the second half with their starting 5: Ridnour, Lee, AK, Love and Pekovic. Each team has hit a FG to start the half, Iguodala from 3-point land and Pek in close. The Wolves have such a different feel with Love and Pekovic are on the court. Both are big reasons why the Wolves have led by as many as 17 tonight. MIN 60, DEN 47


Halftime: At the half, the Wolves hold a 58-44 lead and was punctuated by a 3-pointer via Kevin Love on the Wolves' last possession of the frame. He's got 22 points on 9-of-16 shooting in the first half to go along with eight rebounds. Andrei Kirilenko and Josh Howard each have seven, Barea has six and Ridnour had five points & four assists. The Wolves are looking efficient on offense--shooting 49 percent from the field--and when Love and/or Pek are on the floor they're keeping this strong-rebounding Nuggets team off the glass. Denver averages 49 per game, but it has 22 at the half. Meanwhile, the Nuggets allow 42 per game and they've allowed 25 already tonight. Another important statistic from tonight is the Wolves have 22 points in the paint through 24 minutes. They had 22 points in the paint all game against Golden State on Friday. Denver has never led in this game, but Minnesota has had a lead as big as 17 tonight. For Denver, Jordan Hamilton has nine points off the bench, Gallinari has eight and Iguodala and Lawson each have seven. MIN 58, DEN 44

Q2 3:42: Love continues to fill the stat sheet tonight. He's got 18 points on 8-of-14 shooting and also has seven boards. On the other side, fellow All-Star Andre Iguodala is having a tough night from the field. He's 1-of-5 with two points. A lot of his minutes have been against Andrei Kirilenko, and he's certainly taken part in altering shots tonight. MIN 45, DEN 34

Q2 6:59: The Nuggets are on an 8-2 run and they've cut the Wolves' lead to 35-32. A lot of it has to do with the team's rebounding advantage they have when Love and Pek have been off the court. Koufos himself has three offensive rebounds tonight. Adelman is remedying this by putting Love back on the court midway through the second. Ridnour also checks back in. MIN 35, DEN 32

Q2 8:40: The Nuggets opened up the second on a 7-0 run that included a five-point possession w/ an offensive rebound off a three-throw attempt that turned into a made 3-pointer. But Barea answered back with a 3 of his own and Dante Cunningham hit a jumper from the baseline to create a little separation. The Wolves are up 33-24 with 8:40 left in the 1st, and reserves Barea, Shved, Howard, Cunningham and Stiemsma are giving the starters some minutes on the bench. MIN 33, DEN 24

End Q1: Welcome back, JJ Barea. Barea checked in with about 2 minutes left in the first to give Luke Ridnour some rest, entering as Dante Cunningham also checked in for Kevin Love. To end the first, Barea hit a 3-pointer from the wing at the buzzer on a sweet pass from Malcolm Lee, giving the Wolves a 26-15 lead after 1. Minnesota held Denver to 10 points through the first nine minutes--really solid defensive effort early on. Denver is shooting 7-of-22 from the field. To start the second, Alexey Shved and Josh Howard both checked in for the Wolves. MIN 26, DEN 15

Q1 3:30: Someone forgot to tell Love that he's coming off a broken shooting hand injury and missed the last nine games. He's 7-of-10 from the field, 1-of-2 from 3-point range and has 16 points and five boards in his first nine minutes back in action. Add in a long 2 from Kirilenko, who has three points, and the Wolves are on an 11-0 run. MIN 21, DEN 10

Q1 5:48: Nuggets coach Geroge Karl said when the Wolves got their entire team back they'd look an awful lot different and would be able to be a lot more creative with what they do on both ends of the court. He was right, but I'm sure he didn't expect it tonight. Love's big return has opened up some new avenues for this Wolves team. He's picking up boards that would have been suspect against this strong-rebounding Nuggets team without him on the court, and he and Pekovic are adding a dynamic presence in the post. Nice to see both back on the court. Love has nine points on 4-of-6 shooting and is 1-of-2 from the line. Wondered about how his hand would look in his shooting motion, but so far he doesn't look like he had a broken hand at all. 13, DEN 10

Q1 8:00: So much for rust after missing the first nine games of the season: Love has six points on 3-of-5 shooting and also has four rebounds in the first four minutes of the game. The Wolves are up 8-6 early. MIN 8, DEN 6

Tipoff: Game is about under way. Here are tonight's starters: Nuggets: PG-Ty Lawson, SG-Andre Iguodala, SF-Danilo Gallinari, PF-Kenneth Faried, C-Kosta Koufos. Timberwolves: PG-Luke Ridnour, SG-Malcolm Lee, SF-Andrei Kirilenko, PF-Kevin Love, C-Nikola Pekovic.

Pregame 7:00 PM: Kevin Love has his right hand wrapped up but certainly looks ready to go tonight. He's been pretty visible at the end of practices this week, and in his absence he's continued to keep working on his conditioning throughout. This weekend he began 5-on-0 drills with the team. Will be interesting to see how many minutes he'll get tonight and how many shots he'll take. The broken hand is his shooting hand.

Pregame 6:35: Tonight's projected starting lineup with the new additions include PG-Luke Ridnour, SG-Malcolm Lee, SF-Andrei Kirilenko, PF-Kevin Love and C-Nikola Pekovic. Add in giving Josh Howard an extra four days to get accustomed to the system and work on his conditioning and JJ Barea available to come off the bench and this Wolves team has the boost of energy it's been looking for after two straight home losses last week. Adelman said pregame that the team has talked about producing more energy than it did last week, and this news should not only help with the team's mentality but also should give physical rest to players who have been stretched for minutes—particularly Andrei Kirilenko and Luke Ridnour. Official starting lineups coming up momentarily and tipoff at 7 p.m.

Pregame 6:30 PM: The Timberwolves announced there are still tickets remaining for tonight's game if fans are interested in heading down to Target Center to see Love's return.

Pregame 6:15 PM: Greetings from Target Center, where the Wolves will end their three-game home stand with a game against the Denver Nuggets tonight at 7 p.m. The game’s on Fox Sports North and 830 WCCO-AM. Catch updates right here in the live blog, follow along on Twitter via @MNTimberwolves and @MarkRemme and join the conversation at WolvesNation.com.

It’s a big night for the Timberwolves, as forward Kevin Love was a surprise activation and will start tonight against the Nuggets. Love has missed the first nine games of the regular season with a broken right hand, but he will join a lineup that will include Nikola Pekovic returning from a sprained ankle and JJ Barea who will come off the bench for the first time since injuring his foot six games ago. Suddenly the Wolves have a team whose roster looks a lot more full than it did even three days ago.

Love broke his hand during a training session after the Wolves' preseason game against Maccabi Bazan Haifa. He was originally scheduled to miss 6-8 weeks, but he's continued to work on his conditioning and was added into 5-on-0 drills earlier this week. Love and Pekovic both will make a huge difference on the boards tonight, as the Nuggets lead the league with 49.27 rebounds per game. They are allowing their opposition only 40.36 boards per game, sixth best in the league. Love was second in the NBA in rebounding a year ago, and Pekovic has a knack for putting himself in the right position on the offensive boards.

Nuggets coach George Karl was matter of fact about the way Denver looks to maneuver around him tonight. He said the Nuggets will try and draw Pek away from the basket with pick and roll situations.

“[We want to] get him away from the basket as much as possible and not let him plant a big tree in the middle of the paint,” Karl said. “We’ll try to move him around and try to cover the floor as much as we possibly can.”

Karl said Kirilenko is the Wolves’ defensive key because he is “an amazing reactor and he makes many defensive plays in a lot of different ways.” Karl said Kirilenko is one of his favorite players to watch, although I’m sure he’s hopeful AK doesn’t have a big game tonight.

Other tidbits from Karl: Former Wolves players Kosta Koufos and Corey Brewer both have made big impacts on the Nuggets this season. He said Koufos was so good in Training Camp and was the team’s best big man day in and day out that if Karl decided to start anyone else at center to begin the year he’d be doing the team a disservice. He said Brewer, along with Andre Miller and JaVale McGee, are big reasons why the Nuggets have had good offensive production off the bench.

Here are a few notes to keep in mind during tonight’s game:

  • The Wolves trail in the series, 38-60, and are 23-26 at home. Denver took three of four from the Wolves in 2011-12. The Nuggets have won 19 of the last 21 meetings between the two clubs. The Nuggets have scored 100+ points in the last 15 games of the series.


  • The Wolves rank 3rd in the NBA in scoring defense, allowing just 90.44 points per game, and 3rd in opponents' field goal percentage at 42.4%. Minnesota leads the NBA in blocked shots at 8.0 per game.


  • Andrei Kirilenko continues to fill the box score this season, averaging 14.1 points, 8.3 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 2.2 blocks and 1.4 steals. He ranks 4th in the NBA in field goal percentage at 59.7% (46-for-77) and 8th in blocked shots. He has recorded a point/rebound double-double in three of the last four games, averaging 17.8 points, 10.3 rebounds and 42.3 minutes over that stretch.


  • Dante Cunningham has scored in double digits in four of the last five games, averaging 12.2 ppg on 62.2 % (28-45) shooting over that stretch.


  • Alexey Shved has scored in double-digits in the last three games, averaging 17.0 points and 4.7 assists over that span. Over the last eight games, Shved has played 93:32 of the possible 96 fourth-quarter minutes. For the season, he has scored 58 of his 94 points (61.7%) in the fourth quarter. Overall, he ranks 7th among rookies in scoring (10.4) and 2nd in assists (4.2).


  • The Wolves have attempted more free throws than their opposition in seven of nine games this season, holding a per-game advantage of 27.2 - 18.8.


  • Denver is 5-6 on the season, including a 3-5 record on the road. Tonight is the third game of a three-game road trip for Denver (1-1). Including tonight, the Nuggets have played nine of their first 12 games on the road.


  • Denver's +8.91 board advantage tops the league rankings. The Nuggets have collected 20+ offensive boards in four games this season (had just one in 2011-12).


  • The Nuggets rank last in the NBA in free-throw percentage at 66.0% (161-244).


  • Kenneth Faried has seven double-doubles in the last nine games this season. He ranks 6th in the NBA in rebounding (11.3) and 1st in offensive rebounds (5.7). Faried also ranks 12th in the league in field-goal percentage at 54.3%.



  • For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Timberwolves and Mark Remme on Twitter, and join the conversation at WolvesNation.com.