GameDay Blog: Wolves vs. Jazz - Feb. 13, 2013

Mark Remme
Wolves Editor/Writer

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Final: Randy Foye hit four free-throws down the stretch to ice this one as the Wolves fall 97-93 tonight at Target Center. Check out Timberwolves.com throughout the night for full analysis, postgame interviews, highlights, photos and more. UTA 97, MIN 93

Q4 19.3: Derrick Williams was fouled shooting a corner 3-pointer and hit all three foul shots, bringing the Wolves to within 93-91 with 19.3 left. Jazz ball coming out of the timeout. UTA 93, MIN 91

Q4 24.1: So much happened in the last 30 seconds. The Wolves cut the lead to four and got a steal by Rubio on Earl Watson. As Rubio went in for the lay-up in transition to cut the lead to two, Watson swatted Rubio's shot and got the rebound. Watson went to the line and hit a pair of free throws to make it a six-point game. The Wolves responded with a lay-up by Pek, and the Jazz countered with 1-of-2 free throws by Millsap. We've got a 93-88 game, Wolves ball, with 24.1 left. UTA 93, MIN 88

Q4 56.3: Hold the phone folks, Minnesota just went on a 7-0 run here and after a Jazz turnover the Wolves have the ball down by six with 56.3 to play. Game on here as we come out of the timeout with Rubio, Barea, Ridnour, D-Will and Pek on the floor. UTA 90, MIN 84

Q4 2:44 The Jazz are pulling away here, up 13 with 2:44 to play thanks to just a tough night shooting for the Wolves (24-of-74) coupled with breakdowns in transition D and no answer for the Jazz inside. Utah has a 54-22 points in the paint advantage, and they're getting out and running here punctuated by Alec Burks' alley-oop jam from Earl Watson moments ago. UTA 90, MIN 77

Q4 5:54: Well that escalated quickly. The Wolves are now down by 13 after the Jazz put together a 16-8 run here to begin the fourth quarter. Kanter has been a big reason for it, scoring six of his 10 points here in the quarter and the rest of the bench, including Favors, Burks and Carroll, is chipping in. Minnesota needs a run quick here to get back into this one, and it needs to start in the paint. The Wolves are being outscored 48-22 in the paint tonight. UTA 84, MIN 71

End Q3: Here we go, Wolves trailing 68-63 after three and 12 minutes to play. The Jazz ended that quarter on an 8-2 run after the Wolves took a 61-60 lead thanks to a pair of free throws from Ridnour. He has 18 points. The Jazz got baskets from four different players during that 8-2 run, and they're led by 20 from Jefferson and Millsap. UTA 68, MIN 63

Q3 1:52: Big Al Jefferson is a pretty tough load to handle, and he's making his presence felt tonight. He has 18 points and 11 rebounds, mostly from his work in or around the paint, but he's not afraid to hit that midrange jumper and he just showed off an awfully nimble defensive play by stripping Ridnour coming off the pick-and-roll and taking it in transition for the lay-up. He's shooting 8-of-15 tonight. UTA 62, MIN 61

Q3 5:14: Pek is really becoming a factor on the offensive end right now. After that 0-for-5 first half, Pek is 3-of-3 in the third quarter and has really been effective getting to the rim and throwing down some dunks. And on a recent possession, he drew a double-team that opened up a streaking Rubio to the hoop. That particular drive didn't result in points, but it shows how Pek can command a pretty substantial presence and the Wolves need to be able to take advantage of that either through his scoring or through the openings in the lane that will come from his double teams. UTA 53, MIN 51

End Q2: Greg Stiemsma got a technical from the bench toward the end of the first half, catching the eye of an official after Utah was credited with a tip-in basket that looked still be inside the cylinder. That led to a free throw, and heading into the half the Wolves trail by two. But neither team put together a strong first half and both will be looking to pick up the pace offensively in the second half. The Wolves are being led by D-Will with 12 points and nine rebounds, as well as Ridnour with 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting. Rubio has three assists and four rebounds to go along with eight points. Paul Millsap has 13 points to lead all scorers. It's been a game of cold streaks and runs, as Minnesota has gone on a 10-0 run in the first quarter and the Jazz went on a 12-0 run in the second. Again, the key is going to be Pek being able to establish himself inside. He is 0-for-5 with one point and four boards tonight. UTA 42, MIN 40

Q2 1:32:

Derrick Williams is one rebound shy of a double-double here in the first half, and he nearly had it on the defensive end a moment ago. He's got 10 points and nine rebounds so far tonight, and he is tied with Ridnour for the team-lead in points. On Utah's end, Paul Millsap has 13 to lead the team. The Wolves are being outscored 13-5 on the bench, but it's because their starters have been able to maintain the bulk of the minutes so far tonight. One guy to watch offensively is Nikola Pekovic, who is 0-for-5 tonight from the field battling Big Al. It's a key matchup, and right now Jefferson is keeping Pek in check. Pek has one point tonight. UTA 39, MIN 36

Q2 8:34: The Wolves continue to hang tough in this defensive battle. We've got the three-guard lineup checking in as Gelabale leaves the game in favor of Rubio, sliding Barea to the 2 and Shved to the 3. Both teams are combined shooting 15-of-55 right now from the field. MIN 20, UTA 15

End Q1: It was not the most offense-oriented quarter we've seen this season, as the Wolves and Jazz each failed to reach 20 points and shot a combined 12-of-42 from the field. Still, Minnesota held Utah scoreless for nearly six minutes and went on a 10-0 run that helped them take a seven-point lead into the second. Derrick Williams has an impressive nine rebounds in the first to go along with five points. Really impressive considering the bulk of players the Jazz have in the front court. Luke has a game-high seven on his birthday. Barea, Shved, Gelabale, Cunningham and Stiemsma begin the second quarter. MIN 17, UTA 10

Q1 2:58: More Luke to report here. He just hit a 3-pointer that gave Minnesota its first lead of the night. Luke has a game-high five points on his birthday. MIN 12, UTA 8

Q1 4:58: Luke Ridnour just drove through the lane and hit a miniature teardrop, similar to the shot he hit over Jefferson last year in the 100-98 buzzer-beating win before the All-Star Break. The shot came after Minnesota started 2-of-13 from the field and cut the Jazz lead to two as we headed into the first timeout. Jefferson and Millsap have all eight of Utah's points, and they will be a big factor in tonight's game. If they are able to score at will (currently 4-of-9), it will pose big problems for Minnesota because of their size and strength. If the Wolves can contain them, they will have a much easier time hanging with the Jazz tonight. UTA 8, MIN 6

Starters:

Jazz:
PG-Jamaal Tinsley, SG-Randy Foye, SF-Marvin Williams, PF-Paul Millsap, C-Al Jefferson

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

Pregame 6:35 PM: A couple of noteworthy points from Jazz coach Ty Corbin during his pregame availability earlier this evening. Corbin said the team talked about facing the Wolves on the road in a back-to-back situation after a big win at home against the Jazz last night. They stressed the importance of finishing strong and putting themselves in the best position they can before the break. But they're not planning on it being easy in Minnesota.

"This is a good team that's playing well after having so many guys out, and having a tough win the other night over in Cleveland, so we can't afford to take it lightly," Corbin said.

He said the matchup with Pekovic and Big Al is going to be an interesting matchup. Both players are playing strong basketball right now, and one of the keys tonight is going to be if Utah can get the ball into Jefferson's hands and if the Wolves can get the ball into Pek's hands. "He's a physical, big guy inside, so we can't let him go crazy," Corbin said.

And Corbin talked a little bit about Andrei Kirilenko getting back into the NBA. He won't play tonight, but he did get his homecoming of sorts at Energy Solutions Arena earlier this year and left his impact on the Jazz franchise.

"It's great to see him back in the league after missing last year," Corbin said. "He's a great individual, first of all, and we miss him around, not only as a basketball player, but his personality, and the kind of person he is around the locker room and in our community. We wish him well, hopefully he'll get well soon."

Pregame 6:15 PM: With this being the last game before essentially a week-long break in between games, coach Rick Adelman admitted there is always the chance a team could have oversight looking ahead to the time off. But he was quick to point out that the Wolves can't be in that situation.

"We can't afford that, obviously," Adelman said. "But I think they don't want to leave and go on a break too soon. We haven't played this game. They seem to be focused today and getting the win the other night helped our confidence and hopefully we can carry that over."

One thing the team was able to enjoy during that 100-92 road win in Cleveland the other night was the amount of made shots from the outside, something this team has struggled to do for much of the season. If they can get that right, they have a good opportunity to win games after the All-Star Break.

But they need to find a way to stay consistent in that regard, because it opens up so many other possibilities when they're hitting from mid-range and beyond. "Shooting is probably consistently night in and night out [the biggest issue], because when we made shots like we did the other night it opens things up for Pek," Adelman said. "Pek all of a sudden has an easier time around the basket. We have to look at that."

The break also allows the team to rest, and for a squad that has gone through so many injuries that privilege will be taken very seriously. J.J. Barea said he was heading to Puerto Rico to get a little beach therapy, while Pek is going ice fishing here in Minnesota.

Adelman joked that the extra time off just might clear up some of the team's long-term injury woes.

"I'm sure we'll get back after these four days and Chase will be OK and Kevin will be OK," Adelman mused. "Great things are going to happen."

Pregame 4:40 PM: Welcome to Target Center, where the Timberwolves will close out the pre-All-Star Break schedule against the Utah Jazz tonight. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. on Fox Sports North and 830 WCCO-AM.

A couple cool things to point out tonight. First off, tonight the Wolves will welcome Nick Van Denburgh of Elk River to the arena to kick off a memorable weekend for him and his family. Nick is part of Special Olympics Minnesota—he was the organization’s male athlete of the year in 2011—and he was selected to take part in the Special Olympics game at All-Star Weekend in Houston. He will play with NBA legends like Dikembe Mutombo and Chris Mullin and will be coached by Kenneth Faried and Damian Lillard. Really cool experience for him, and it begins courtside pregame tonight when he’ll be able to meet Wolves players and enjoy a front-row seat from the bench.

Second, tonight is a mirror image of last year’s final game before the All-Star Break in which Minnesota hosted the Jazz on a February Wednesday night. That game ended with Luke Ridnour’s teardrop at the buzzer of Al Jefferson, and it sent the Wolves into the All-Star Break on a huge high. Tonight, the team hopes to do the same against a difficult Jazz team that is coming off a game last night against OKC. They beat the Thunder 109-94 in Salt Lake City.

Third, I spoke with Kevin Love today during my weekly podcast about his injury, All-Star Weekend and much more. Really good stuff from him, including which players from his dad’s playing days helped pave the way for his love for the game and who he kind of mirrors his game after. He also gives some insight into how to handle Valentine’s Day. CLICK HERE to listen in.

More to come during tonight’s pregame festivities. Here is a list of some pregame notes to think about tonight:

  • The Wolves trail in the all-time series 32-65, and are 21-27 at home. While the Wolves have lost the last two games in the series, they have won the last two played at Target Center. Utah won the previous meeting this season, 106-84, at EnergySolutions Arena.

  • Minnesota has used 13 different starting lineups this season (15 in 2011-12). The most games for any Wolves starting lineup this season is eight posted by the Kirilenko, Love, Pekovic, Ridnour and Shved lineup (4-4 record).

  • Over the last five games, Ricky Rubio is averaging 14.4 points, 10.0 assists in 34.2 minutes per game. He has recorded three point/assist double-doubles over that stretch. On Monday, Rubio recorded his third career game of with a point/assist double-double and 5+ steals; Terrell Brandon (seven) is the only other Wolves player to accomplish this feat more often.

  • Nikola Pekovic is averaging 17.2 points, on 52.5% shooting, and 9.8 rebounds in his last 26 games (12 double-doubles). He ranks 18th in rebounds with 8.8 rpg and 6th in offensive rebounds with 3.7 per game. Pekovic has pulled down at least one offensive board in 54 straight games, the 4th-longest active streak in the NBA (Kevin Love - 75, Anderson Varejao - 57, Tyson Chandler - 55).

  • Luke Ridnour has been the Wolves' leading scorer the last three games, averaging 19.3 ppg, on 59.5% shooting, over that stretch. He's shooting 54.7% (58-for-106) over the last 10 games. Ridnour is the only Wolves player to appear in all 49 games (all starts).

  • Mickael Gelabale is averaging 12.5 points the last two games, shooting 8-for-11 from the field, including 5-for-6 from three-point range and 4-for-4 from the charity stripe.

  • The Wolves are shooting 57.2% in the fourth quarter in February and averaging 29.4 points; those numbers were 40.0% and 23.0 points in January.

  • Utah is 7th in the Western Conference, 1.5 games behind Golden State and 0.5 ahead of Houston. The Jazz is 9-18 on the road, including a 3-13 record vs. Western Conference teams. Utah leads the NBA in comeback wins with 12 victories after trailing by at least 10 points.

  • Al Jefferson ranks 8th in the NBA with 25 double-doubles, 14th in rebounding at 9.4 rpg and 7th in defensive rebounds with 7.3 per game. Over the last four games, Jefferson is averaging 22.5 points on 59.7% (40-for-67) shooting.

  • In his last seven games vs. Minnesota, Paul Millsap is averaging 22.1 points, on 50.4% shooting, 8.4 rebounds and 3.57 steals.

  • Randy Foye is averaging a career-high 42.6% (121-for-284) from three-point range (36.6% entering the season). He is eight treys away from tying Mehmet Okur's club record of 129 three-pointers made in a season set in 2006-07.



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