GameDay Live Blog: Wolves vs. Nuggets | Nov. 27, 2013

GameDay Live Blog: Wolves vs. Nuggets | Nov. 27, 2013



Final: That will do it. The Wolves fall 117-110 tonight to the Nuggets. K-Mart finished with 29 points, Pek had 21 and 10, Love had 19 and 15, and Rubio had 17 and 11. Lawson had 23 for the Nuggets. Much more to come tonight on Timberwolves.com, so stay tuned. DEN 117, MIN 110

Q4 24.6: Wolves got a stop they needed and it turned into a monster slam by Brewer on the fast break. That made it a 111-108 game. But with the ball on the next possession, Love missed a 3 and that turned into a pair of free throws by Lawson on the other end. It's a five-point game with less than 30 seconds left, Wolves ball coming out of the timeout. DEN 113, MIN 108

Q4 2:35: K-Love's 3 made that a 10-0 run for the Wolves and put them within one at 103-102. But the Nuggets just answered back with six straight, and we're back to a seven-point game with 2:35 to play. DEN 109, MIN 102

Q4 4:28: Ask and you shall receive, I guess. It started with a 3 from K-Love, then an outlet from K-Love to Martin for 2 and another transition basket for Martin, and all of a sudden it's 103-99 with 4:28 left. Nice, fast 7-0 run for the Wolves to cut this to four and force Denver into a timeout. DEN 103, MIN 99

Q4 5:52: There's time for one final push here, but the Wolves need to make a move if they want to get back into this game down 11 with just under six to play. The Wolves are being outscored 52-38 in the paint and 44-10 off the bench. DEN 103, MIN 92

Q4 8:56: The Wolves keep trying to make a push, but Denver keeps answering back. They cut the lead to 90-85 early in the fourth, but Denver has since extended the lead back up to eight. Brewer is heating up--he just hit a corner 3 to help in this comeback's cause--and Pek showcased another nice turnaround J. He has the range to do it--I'd like to see him show that off a bit more. Rubio now has his double-double and is in the middle of a 10-10-5 game with 15 points, 10 assists and five boards. DEN 96, MIN 88

End Q3: Minnesota trails by seven heading into the fourth. Kevin Martin leading the team with 19 poitns, while Pek has 17 points and eight rebounds, Rubio has 15 points and nine assists and Love has 13 points and 13 rebounds. For the Nuggets, Lawson has 19 points, Robinson has 15 points, Chandler has 12 and Foye has 10. DEN 90, MIN 83

Q3 2:34: If it ain't broken, don't fix it--right? Adelman is going with that philosophy right now as he hasn't tapped into his bench yet this half, and with good reason. The Wolves reserves haven't been able to give the team a spark or maintain momentum tonight, so the starters have been in the entire third and are all creeping up to or have passed the 30 minute mark for the night. Love has 13 points and 13 boards, and his most recent jam brought the Wolves to within three. That deficit has since grown back to seven after a pair of quick hoops by the Nuggets. The latest Denver basket came off a sloppy offensive set by the Wolves, which Nate Robinson turned into a transition basket. DEN 85, MIN 78

Q3 8:56: Here come the Wolves. Minnesota cut this lead to 70-66 in the first three minutes of the third. It's an 11-6 run to start this frame, highlighted by a nice hustle offensive rebound by Ricky Rubio that led to an offensive rebound and putback field goal by Love at the hoop. Love now has 11 points and eight boards, nearing another double-double. DEN 70, MIN 66

Halftime: Well, the Nuggets continue to shoot like crazy tonight. They're shooting 63.4 percent and are 6-of-8 from 3-point range. It's hard to keep up when a team shoots that well, especially when the Wolves are shooting 41 percent, but Minnesota is only trailing by nine as we head into the half. The starters are leading the way, led by Kevin Martin's 17 points and Pek's 15 points. Love has nine points and five boards, and Rubio has four points and six assists. For the Nuggets, Ty Lawson and Nate Robinson have 13 points, while Wilson Chandler has 10 and Andre Miller has six. The Nuggets' point guards have combined for 32 points on 13-of-16 shooting tonight. DEN 65, MIN 55

Q2 2:18 The Wolves chipped this lead down to seven but the Nuggets pushed it back up to nine as we head into this timeout. Mozgov is headed to the line at the moment, by the way. Minnesota is getting that production back once the starters returned, but the reserves just haven't been able to keep pace tonight or throughout most of the season. It does put a lot of pressure on the starting five to build a solid lead or to come back from a significant deficit. Tonight, the Wolves trailed by as many as 15. DEN 57, MIN 48

Q2 5:03: Denver is straight up shooting the lights out tonight. They're 21-of-31 (65.6 percent) from the field and are still 6-of-8 from 3-point range. The bench is shooting a combined 8-of-12 and have 23 of their 52 points. The Wolves are back to their full starting five and are trying to make a run here before the end of the half that will springboard them into the third. DEN 52, MIN 38

Q2 8:25: The Nuggets are on a nice run here. They've started the quarter on a 17-6 run to start the second quarter as the Wolves give their starters a rest and play Barea, Shved, Muhammad, DC and Pek. Barea and DC are a combined 4-of-5 from the field with four points apiece. but Nate Robinson has been sensational in his six minutes on the court. He's 3-for-3 with a pair of 3-pointers. Denver has 18 bench points so far, while the Wolves have those eight. DEN 45, MIN 33

End Q1: J.J. Barea ended a Nuggets 10-0 run moments ago with a long jumper just inside the arc, and the Wolves followed that up with a sweet move by Kevin Love in the post to cut this lead to one. Rubio did snag a steal off the inbound, but with 1.8 left he had to put it up and wasn't able to convert. K-Mart has eight, Love has seven and Rubio has four points and five assists. Lawson has nine points for the Nuggets, while Chandler has eight. Thirty-two of the 55 points tonight are in the paint. DEN 28, MIN 27

Q1 4:12: K-Mart is looking sharp tonight. He's already got eight points on 3-of-6 shooting and is 2-of-2 from the line. Ricky has four assists, and the Wolves are shooting 8-of-15 from the field. We haven't seen any of the starters exit just yet for the Wolves, so we're still sticking with the Rubio-Martin-Brewer-Love-Pek lineup. MIN 19, DEN 18

Q1 6:48: The Wolves look pretty good in their new sleeved jerseys if you ask me. They have a look that seems to appeal like a regular jersey with the sleeves coming form a t-shirt underneath. So far, they're shooting 5-of-9 from the field in their new uniforms and are trailing by two as we head into the first timeout. Ricky and K-Mart each have four points, while Pek and Love have each scored two. Ty Lawson leads all scorers with five, and J.J. Hickson has four. The Nuggets are shooting well, too, at 6-of-8 so far tonight. DEN 14, MIN 12

Starters:

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

Nuggets: PG-Ty Lawson, SG-Randy Foye, SF-Wilson Chandler, PF-Kenneth Faried, C-J.J. Hickson

PREGAME 6:25 PM: Luc Richard Mbah a Moute will be suited up and available tonight as the Timberwolves face the Nuggets, but as of 5:30 p.m. even he wasn’t sure how much—if any—he’ll play. Given he arrived in Minnesota last night, began physicals around 6 a.m. and is going through a quick briefing on the Wolves’ tendencies and plays, it’s a toss-up at the moment what his impact might be this evening at Target Center.

But the Wolves hope his long-term impact will be far more significant.

Mbah a Moute officially became a member of the Timberwolves earlier today after passing his physical in town—he was traded from Sacramento in exchange for Derrick Williams on Tuesday—and from the beginning he understands that he was brought in here to bring defensive intensity and energy to this squad.

“It’s something I’ve done since college, even since high school,” Mbah a Moute said. “I’ve always had an ability to guard multiple positions, and I’ve played for coaches that value that. It’s always been something I naturally do. I enjoy doing it, and it’s been even better when you do it and you help your team win games.”

Mbah a Moute said he was surprised initially by the trade, but after that initial reaction he was happy to get a chance to come play for a Wolves team that has the aspirations and ability to play its way into the postseason. The core is there, Mbah a Moute said, and now it’s up to the team to make it happen.

And he could see that through this trade the Wolves saw the defensive stopper in him that could make a difference.

“No doubt, them obviously making a trade for me was something that showed they really wanted and had a need for something like that, someone like me,” Mbah a Moute said. “Knowing that I can come in here and do that was also good, because that’s something I enjoy doing and hopefully I can continue doing that here at a high level for this team.”

The Wolves certainly feel like he can make that difference.

President of Basketball Operations Flip Saunders said he liked Mbah a Moute’s game when he was coaching Washington and the 6-foot-8 forward was playing in Milwaukee. A.J. Price, another former member of the Wizards organization, said Price is a hard-nosed guy who plays extremely hard on both ends of the court. That’s been his staple in this league, and it’s why he’s been able to make a career in the NBA.

And of course there is Kevin Love, who played one season with Mbah a Moute at UCLA in 2007-08. That year, the Bruins went to the Final Four and those two players left for the NBA Draft that June.

Love said Mbah a Moute is a great guy to have on a team, period, because he works hard, he brings intensity and he’s got a great defensive presence.

Love and Mbah a Moute have kept in touch over their years in the NBA, and the new Wolves forward said he is excited to rejoin his fellow UCLA teammate in Minnesota.

“It’s great to be back with him,” Mbah a Moute said. “He’s one of my great friends in the NBA. I’m excited to play with him again and win some games.”

That’s one familiar face he’ll have in the locker room, but Love said Mbah a Moute won’t have trouble making that adjustment to this team. The bigger adjustment for Mbah a Moute might be on the offensive end, where he’ll bet asked with learning Adelman’s system on the fly.

He said playing against Adelman was always challenging because there is always someone cutting and there are always options for where the ball is going. It made it tough to guard, and so he’s happy to be on this team where he won’t need to worry about that. Now it’s just a matter of catching up on the fly.

But he’ll take it. Whatever happens tonight or moving forward, he’ll take it one step at a time.

“I didn’t think I would dress, but I talked to coach Adelman and he said I’ll dress up but I don’t know how much I’ll play or if I’ll play,” Mbah a Moute said. “But I want to be out there with the guys and supporting through, so I’m excited to be out there.”

PREGAME 3:45 PM: A year ago, Corey Brewer was on a Denver Nugget team that played 20 of its first 29 games on the road. The stretch was so grueling that Wolves coach Rick Adelman jokingly asked what George Karl did to make the league punish him and his team so.


They were 15-14 after that 29-game stretch, with that 29th game taking place on Christmas Day. But the Nuggets ended up winning 57 games last year, and one thing Brewer took away from it is that it is possible to get things on track after an up-and-down start. But you need to take advantage of particular games along the way.

“We need to win when you need to win,” Brewer said. “Tonight we have a home game, and we need it bad.”

Funny enough, the Wolves will be hosting the Nuggets tonight at Target Center with tipoff set for 7 p.m. on Fox Sports North Plus and 830 WCCO-AM. It’s a game that will not only feature Minnesota donning its new black alternate uniforms, but it will also be a game in which Minnesota will try to start anew after a tough stretch last week. The Wolves are 8-8—sitting ninth in the West—and they’re hosting a 7-6 Nuggets team that is in the eight spot and will likely be in that seventh-eighth conversation for much of the year.

This is a team that sits in Minnesota’s way as it attempts to get to the postseason. These games at home are a must.

“They’re a good team, but we match up well with them,” Brewer said. “They’re playing well right now, but we’re just happy to be home. We went on the road and had two tough ones. So we need a win.”

The Nuggets have won six of eight and are playing their best basketball of the year under new coach Brian Shaw, who replaced Karl this offseason. Denver already picked up a 117-113 win over the Wolves at Pepsi Center this year, but tonight is another opportunity for Minnesota to strike back. Shaw said the Wolves pose problems that need to be addressed if the Nuggets want to pick up a win tonight.

For one, the Wolves’ offense is tough to stop and is predicated on steals, points off turnovers and transition points. He’s very well aware of Love’s rebounding ability and the opportunity to hit guys like Brewer out in transition.

On nights like this, even early on in the season, the little things will lead the way. And Denver, like Minnesota, needs a win in head-to-head matchups like this one. These early-season victories will go a long way come April.

“They’re real important—it’s going to come down to tiebreakers for sure,” guard Ty Lawson said. “Like 10 or 11 teams are fighting for eight playoff spots. We know we got to come out strong and make sure we get these wins, especially in our conference and our division.”


Check back throughout the night for pregame news and in-game updates right here on Timberwolves.com. We’ll have more coverage of the new uniforms, and at 5:15 p.m. Luc Mbah a Moute will address the media for the first time since being acquired in a trade with Sacramento yesterday.

Here are a few game notes to tide you over in the meantime:

  • The Wolves trail the all-time series 40-63 and are 24-27 at home. The Nuggets won the 2013-14 series opener, 117-113, at Pepsi Center on Nov. 15. The Nuggets have won 22 of the last 26 games in the series, including 10 of the last 12 at Target Center.


  • Wolves Notes

  • The Wolves are 6-2 at Target Center this year, outscoring their opponents by an average of 11.5 points per game (108.5 - 97.0).

  • Kevin Love ranks 1st in the NBA in rebounding (13.8 rpg) and 4th in scoring (24.6 ppg). He has a league-leading 15 double-doubles this year. Love has recorded a double-double in 11 straight road games -- the longest active streak in the NBA.

  • Love has seven 20-point/15-rebound games this season. There have been 26 such games in the NBA this year with Carmelo Anthony having the second-most with three.

  • Kevin Martin has connected on his last 18 free throw attempts and ranks 3rd in the NBA in free throw accuracy at 92.9%. He also ranks 8th in the NBA in scoring (22.5 ppg) and tied for 5th in three-pointers made (38). Martin has 337 points this season, the most points by a Wolves guard in the first 16 games of a season in club history.

  • Nikola Pekovic is averaging 16.3 points on 59.6% shooting (62-for-104) over his last nine games. He had averaged 12.0 ppg on 40.3% shooting (31-for-77) in his first seven games of the season.

  • Corey Brewer is averaging 6.94 fast break points per game this season, scoring a season-high 14 at Houston on Saturday (his 4th double-digit effort). The highest average in this category over a full season since 1996-97 is Allen Iverson's 6.96 for Philadelphia in 2000-01 (71 games).

  • The Wolves rank 2nd in the NBA in free throw percentage at 80.9% (Dallas, 81.0%).Minnesota is 1st in steals with 9.81 spg and 6th in rebounds at 45.44 per game. The Wolves are allowing their opponents an average of just 17.9 FTAs per game -- the 2nd fewest in the league.


  • Nuggets Notes

  • The Nuggets have won 6 of their last 8 games, averaging 107.6 points and shooting 46% from the field over that stretch. Denver is 2-4 on the road this season.

  • Denver ranks 4th in rebounding (46.2 rpg), 5th in blocked shots (5.85 bpg) and 6th in scoring (104.1 ppg).

  • Ty Lawson ranks 4th in the NBA in assists (8.7 apg) and 17th in scoring (20.7 ppg). He also is averaging 4.1 rebounds and is the only player in NBA to be averaging 20+ points, 4+ rebounds and 8+ assists this season.

  • Kenneth Faried has grabbed 10+ rebounds in seven of the last eight games, averaging 10.9 boards over that span. He has seven double-doubles this season, including the last three games -- averaging 13.3 ppg, on 69.6% shooting (16-23), 11.7 rpg and 1.67 blocks in those three games.

  • Denver ranks 2nd in the NBA in bench scoring with 44.3 points per game (Lakers 46.3) and 1st in rebounding with 19.6 boards per game.



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