GameDay Blog: Wolves vs. Raptors - April 5, 2013

Mark Remme
Wolves Editor/Writer

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Final: The Wolves fall to the Raptors again, this being the 16th time in 17 games. Toronto stole a 95-93 win with free throws being the key. Ricky had a chance to tie the game with 1.5 seconds left, but he hit 1-of-2 free throws. Johnson iced the game with a free throw with 0.1 seconds left on the clock. Stay tuned for more from throughout the night. TOR 95, MIN 93

Q4 24.3: Free throws could be the deciding factor in this one. Minnesota has gotten 1-for-2 trips from Ricky and AK in the last two minutes, while Toronto has the ball coming out of a timeout. TOR 94, MIN 92

Q4 2:27: Ricky is being Ricky right now. Unbelievable. He just put together a spin-o-rama pass that led to a Pek layup, giving Minnesota a 90-89 lead with 2:27 to play. Minutes ago, Andrei Kirilenko came up with a huge steal that led to DC's midrange jumper. The Wolves are playing aggressive ball right now, and they're doing everything they can to get Adelman his 1,000th win. MIN 90, TOR 89

Q4 5:21: Crunch time here at Target Center. After the dust settled on Terrence Ross' monstrosity of a dunk (360 slam in style), the Wolves trail by one with 5:21 to play. Minnesota needs to find an answer for DeRozan, who is now up to 22 points on 11-of-21 shooting. Filthy shots, too. He's shaking and popping from all over the place, and he's hitting like crazy. Rudy Gay also with 22 points. TOR 85, MIN 84

End Q3: Ricky had a pair of plays that made the Target Center explode in the final two minutes of the third. The first was an excellent behind the back pass to Pek in the lane for the hoop, and the second came at the end of the quarter to beat the buzzer. After the Raptors tied the game, Ricky took it coast to coast in five seconds and dished it to AK for the baseline jumper as time expired. Rubio has 10 assists to go with five points, while Pek has 18 points and AK has 17 points. Four Raptors are in double-digits as we go into the fourth: DeRozan with 18, Gay with 16, Lowry with 11 and Valanciunas with 10. MIN 73, TOR 71

Q3 2:30: We're seeing a game of runs here, folks. The Wolves went on a 13-0 run to take a 61-50 lead about five minutes into the quarter, but the Raptors came right back. They are currently on a 15-5 run and have cut the lead to one. Kirilenko continues to shine offensively as he has 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting. Pek is 3-for-6 with 13 points and has been to the line 10 times. They need to keep feeding him and try to get that advantage inside. On the defensive end, the Wolves need to find an answer for the Raptors' wing combination of DeRozan and Gay. They have 18 points and 16 points, respectively. MIN 66, TOR 65

Halftime: The Raptors made a comeback from down as many as nine to cut the lead to two as we head into halftime at 48-46. Minnesota has 11 from AK and 10 more from Pek, while Chase has seven off the bench on 3-of-3 shooting and Ridnour and D-Will have six. For the Raptors, Rudy Gay has 12 and DeRozan has 10. Minnesota has struggled from the 3-point line, as they are 1-of-8 tonight. They'll need to get that perimeter shooting going, led by Budinger and Barea, and they really need to get back to feeding Pek inside. He has six points and went to the line four times in the first 5 1/2 minutes, but he's got four points and has gone to the line twice in the ensuing 18 1/2 minutes. MIN 48, TOR 46

Q2 3:03: The Wolves slowed down a bit offensively but are still shooting 17-of-34 from the field and still have put up 13 assists on 17 field goals. The Wolves' bench, aside from Budinger, started off rough but have started to get a little more luck on the offensive end. Cunningham, Barea and Shved are currently 4-of-15, but DC just hit a baseline jumper to put the Wolves up 41-36. MIN 41, TOR 36

Q2 8:01: Luke Ridnour just saved the day during '90s karaoke, showing all the young teammates how to sing Ace of Base. Loved it when they do karaoke, but Budinger, Pek, Love, Rubio and D-Will all swung and missed on that one. Meanwhile, the Wolves are clinging onto a five-point lead after the Raptors put together a comeback. MIN 32, TOR 27

End Q1: For those keeping track, we have a hip-hop group dancing to "Tearing Up My Heart" here on '90s Night, which is a pretty awesome end of first quarter treat. Back to the game, and Andrei Kirilenko has nine points and four boards to lead the Wolves in both categories. Pek has seven points on 2-of-3 shooting, and they've slowed him down after a fast start. Ricky just put together an incredible play. After he turned the ball over, he stole it right back and made a pass from his butt to AK for the lay-up. Such great hustle. He's so fun to watch every night, and he's certainly playing at about the highest level he's played at since becoming an NBA player. MIN 24, TOR 18

Q1 6:30: Back and forth start tonight here on '90s Night at Target Center. The Wolves have a 15-11 lead led by a strong start by Nikola Pekovic, who is using what Dwane Casey called his "old man strength" to muscle his way to the hoop against Jonas Valanciunas. Pek is 2-for-2 from the floor and 3-of-4 from the line. Meanwhile, DeMar DeRozan is using his size advantage against Luke Ridnour. DeRozan already has six points on 3-of-5 shooting. MIN 15, TOR 13

PG-Kyle Lowry, SG-DeMar DeRozan, SF-Rudy Gay, PF-Amir Johnson, C-Jonas Valanciunas

Wolves: PG-Ricky Rubio, SG-Luke Ridnour, SF-Andrei Kirilenko, PF-Derrick Williams, C-Nikola Pekovic

Pregame 7:00 PM: A few quick notes before tonight's tipoff. First off, the game is not on local TV tonight so be sure to listen to Alan Horton on the Wolves Radio Network or follow along on Twitter with my handle (@markremme) and the Wolves' (@MNTimberwolves). Secondly, Kevin Love was not cleared for full contact practice this week--I don't know the specifics on that, but I do know that he is expected to be re-evaluated next week. Coach Rick Adelman said pregame he would still like to see him play this year, but it's getting closer and closer to the end of the regular season. By Monday, the team will have six games left. "My stance is still the same. If we were cleared to play we’d address it at that time," Adelman said. "But until then we owe it to just keep working with these guys that are playing, and if that happens we’ll have to talk about it. But it’s been going on for so long now that we’ll just stay with the guys we have and see what happens.” Other notes: Raptors coach Dwane Casey was impressed with Ricky Rubio's recent play and said confidence is a big part of why he's playing so well on both ends of the floor. Last game Rubio had eight steals and five 3-pointers. "He will try any pass, and he can make any pass. I told all of our players he has to be on high alert when he has the ball, because he will try any pass and anything he can imagine he can make that pass," Casey said. "You have to see the ball, be alert on the weak side, because he’s one of the top passers we’ve seen in a long time. He reminds me of Pistol Pete with his passes. Once he gets his strength and starts making the consistent 3-point shot, he’s going to be one of the top guards in our league.” Tipoff momentarily. Stay tuned. Pregame 1:30 PM: Here we go, folks. We’ve been anticipating this night since the preseason here at Target Center—the chance for Rick Adelman to earn his 1,000th career win. We thought it would come a lot earlier, possibly in February, but injuries took their toll and as a result the Wolves fell off the pace not only for Adelman’s personal achievement but also for the team’s playoff hopes.

A win tonight would at least signify an important milestone for Adelman and this team, which has endured so well through the ups and downs and has been lauded by Adelman himself for persevering so well all year long. When Minnesota faces the Raptors tonight at Target Center, he’ll have his first chance to become only the eighth coach in NBA history to reach 1,000 wins.

But it won’t come easy.

The Raptors have owned the Timberwolves for much of their existence. Toronto owns a 12-21 overall record against Minnesota, and the Raptors have won 15 of their last 16 games against the Wolves since Minnesota swept them in 2003-04. The Wolves’ last win against them, did come in their last meeting at Target Center on Jan. 29, 2011.

Raptors coach Dwane Casey has been on both sides of this spectrum. He was an assistant and the head coach for Minnesota during this stretch of Raptors dominance, but he has also been Toronto’s head coach for the past two years. He said he can’t figure out exactly why the Raptors have had such success against Minnesota, but he hopes it continues tonight. As a side note, Casey spoke very highly of his time here in Minnesota. Still a very well-respected individual by members of the Wolves’ administration.

Toronto will try to replicate the success it had in its lone meeting of the season with Minnesota, a 105-86 victory at the Air Canada Centre. Minnesota has battled so many injuries this year, but Toronto is essentially catching the Wolves during their two healthiest points of the campaign. Casey said the key to trying to handle this Wolves’ squad is containing their offensive rebounding.

“They always crash the boards, the cutting and moving without the ball,” Casey said. “[Adelman’s] system allows cuts, freedom on the weak side, back doors, and he has a lot of good passers. You always have to be engaged in the play as far as seeing the cuts and weakside cuts, the back doors and all those things. That happens because of the spacing in the offense and they style of play that they play.”

He said having guys like Chase Budinger back only helps accentuate the problem of defending the Wolves, because when you have capable shooters the defense needs to honor it. That opens up more room in the middle for guys like Nikola Pekovic to roam and perimeter players to penetrate.

Casey also said Adelman is an innovator, someone who has impacted the game so much during his career. He said a lot of offensive sets the Raptors use are a product of Adelman’s vision and innovation. Adelman, like George Karl and Rick Carlisle, aren’t afraid to push the limits and try new things, Casey said.

“[He was] kind of one of the first to start the elbow stuff in the ‘90s. He’s had an impact on the game and he’s a man of few words,” Casey said. “I don’t know him well, never had a chance to talk to him over the years, but the impact he’s had on the NBA is something that, I hope he stays around. I hope he doesn’t retire, because he’s very good for the game.”

Casey said 1,000 wins is an incredible accomplishment, but…

“I hope he stays [at 999] for one more night,” Casey said, smiling.

Here are some notes heading into tonight's game:

  • The Wolves trail in the all-time series 12-21, but are 9-6 at home. Toronto has won 15 of the last 16 meetings between the two clubs, including a 105-86 win at Air Canada Centre on Nov. 4, 2012.

  • Rick Adelman is one win shy of reaching 1,000 NBA coaching wins -- a plateau previously reached by only seven coaches.

  • Adelman milestone wins include #1: Portland at Miami 124-102 on Feb. 26, 1989; #100: Portland at Cleveland 120-114 on Dec. 29, 1990; #500: Sacramento vs. Orlando 112-100 on Dec. 11, 2001; #750: Sacramento at Denver 100-82 on April 15, 2006. First Playoff Win: Portland vs. Dallas 109-102 on April 26, 1990. First Finals Win: Portland at Detroit 106-105 OT on June 7, 1990.

  • The Wolves have scored 100+ points in five of the last six games (4-2 record), averaging 104.3 ppg over this stretch. Overall, Minnesota is 16-6 when scoring 100+ points.

  • The Wolves are 18-19 at Target Center this season, including an 8-5 record vs. Eastern Conference teams. Minnesota is 5-4 in its last nine home games.

  • Ricky Rubio is averaging 14.9 points, 5.3 rebounds, 8.3 assists and 2.64 steals over the last 14 games. He ranks 2nd in the NBA with 2.41 steals per game and 8th in assists with 7.5 apg. Rubio's eight steals at Milwaukee on Wednesday tied a Wolves' single-game record and also tied the high in the NBA this season.

  • Nikola Pekovic has been the Wolves' leading scorer in his last four games, averaging 24.3 points, on 61.0% (36-for-59) shooting, and 11.0 rebounds over that span. He has recorded 25 double-doubles this season to rank 22nd in the NBA. He also ranks 13th in the league with 218 offensive rebounds and 18th in field goal percentage at 52.4%.

  • Pekovic has grabbed an offensive rebound in the last 70 games he's played -- the 2nd longest active streak in the NBA (Kevin Love, 75).

  • Toronto is 10-27 on the road this year, including a 2-12 mark against the Western Conference. The Raptors have lost seven of their last nine games, and have a 2-8 record in their last 10 road games.

  • The Raptors average the 4th fewest turnovers in the NBA at 13.69 per game. They also rank 5th in free throw percentage at 78.6%.

  • Rudy Gay is averaging 19.4 points in his 26 games since being traded to Toronto on Jan. 30, but has scored 15 or less points in four of his last six games.

  • Jonas Valanciunas is averaging 18.4 points, 9.4 rebounds and 2.8 blocks in the last five games. He has scored in double-digits in 10 straight games, shooting 67.8% (59-for-87) from the field over that stretch.

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