GameDay Blog: Wolves vs. Wizards - March 6, 2013




Mark Remme
Wolves Editor/Writer

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Final: Quite a resurgence tonight for the Wolves in the fourth quarter as Minnesota edged the Wizards 87-82 here at Target Center. Defense was the key down the stretch, especially the steal by Rubio and score by Barea to push the lead to three with 28.2 left. Rubio had 15 points and 11 assists, while Ridnour had 15 points, Williams has 16 points and Barea had 10 points in the fourth (12 overall). John Wall scored 19 to lead the Wizards. More postgame coverage to come throughout the night so stay tuned. MIN 87, WAS 82

Q4 12.6: Ricky again with some good defense, pestering Wall and leading to the ball rolling into the back court during a crucial Wizards possession. The Wizards regained possession but Trevor Ariza jacked up an off-balance corner 3 with time expiring on the shot clock and missed. The Wolves get the ball out of bounds, advance the ball across half court after a timeout. MIN 85,WAS 82

Q4 28.8: Huge steal by Ricky Rubio here with less than a minute to play that led to Barea picking up the loose ball and going in for an open court layup. Wolves up three with 28.2 to play. MIN 85,WAS 82

Q4 2:58: That's the response the Wolves needed. Minnesota trailed 73-65, their largest deficit of the night, but an 18-6 run has erased that and given the Wolves a four-point lead with 2:58 to play. Rubio now has a double-double with 15 points and 10 assists, and he's three boards away from a triple-double. MIN 83, WAS 79

Q4 4:44: Minnesota has struggled from the field in the second half, but once trailing by eight here in the fourth they have found a way to climb back into this one. J.J. Barea just hit a timely 3-pointer from 25 feet that tied the game at 77-77. Seraphin came back with a two of his own making it a two-point Wizards lead, but the Wolves have new life and the Target Center crowd is getting louder. WAS 79, MIN 77

Q4 9:47: The Wizards are currently on an 11-0 run. Critical time for the Wolves here as they try to stay in this game down by eight. WAS 73, MIN 65

End Q3: We're headed to the fourth here in a pretty tightly contested game as the Wolves llead 65-63. Derrick Williams has 14 points to lead the Wolves, while Luke Ridnour had 13 and Rubio has 13 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. Minnesota finished the quarter shooting 5-of-22. Meanwhile, the Wizards are led by Wall's 18 points, and Trevor Ariza has 16. Big quarter here as the Wolves need to contain Wall while also trying to get their inside game going. The Wolves are 2-of-12 from 3 and J.J. Barea is 1-of-6 tonight, 2-of-17 over his last two games. Chris Johnson and Dante Cunningham are a combined 6-for-7. MIN 65, WAS 63

Q3 3:36: The Wolves are shooting 5-of-17 this quarter, while Washington is 4-of-11 from the field. Minnesota did just regain the lead thanks to a nifty corner 3 from Luke Ridnour, and Ricky Rubio just drove to the hoop and scored while drawing the foul to make it a four-point game. Ricky nailed the free throw, and it's 63-58. MIN 63, WAS 58

Q3 5:25: Well we know one thing. At Target Center, they are stretching for "State Farm Twin of the Game" fans pretty heavily. This particular one was supposed to be a twin of Ricky Rubio, but is probably a little big closer to Seth Rogan. Anyway, Both teams are struggling from the floor this quarter and as a result Washington holds a 13-9 advantage in the frame. John Wall continues to lead all scorers with 18 points. D-Will has 13 to lead the Wolves, and Rubio has 10 points, six assists and four rebounds. MIN 57, WAS 56

Halftime: The story of the second quarter turned out to be center Chris Johnson, who played the entire quarter after logging zero minutes in the first and really made good on his opportunity. He protected the rim with nice defense on Okafor and collected a block that led to a change in possession, and on the offensive end he is 3-for-3 with six points and was part of the highlight of the game so far running the floor in transition and throwing down an alley-oop slam from Ricky Rubio. Rubio has eight points, five assists and four rebounds, while Derrick Williams has 10 points. Meanwhile, Trevor Ariza has 16 points on 4-of-7 shooting (3-of-4 form 3), and John Wall has 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting. Minnesota has really kept Washington in check during the second. The Wizards shot 11-of-17 in the first but shot 4-of-15 in the second. MIN 48, WAS 43

Q2 5:47: The Wolves and Wizards have each swapped pretty significant runs in this game, starting with the Wizards' 11-2 run followed by a 9-2 run for the Wolves. Right now the Wolves have a one-point lead and continue to shoot strong from the field as Washington has dropped from 65 percent to about 54 percent from the field. John Wall continues to shine. He's 4-of-4 from the field. Dante Cunningham has come in and given Minnesota a spark hitting 2-of-3 in seven minutes. MIN 36, WAS 35

End Q1: The Wolves are actually playing a pretty efficient game tonight offensively, shooting 9-of-17 from the field, 1-for-1 from 3. Derrick Williams is awfully aggressive tonight, and it's paying off as he has nine points on 3-of-6 shooting. Rubio already has six points, four assists and four boards. Ridnour has five points. For the Wizards, Ariza and Wall each have 10 points, and Washington is shooting at a 65 percent clip so far. WAS 29, MIN 24

Q1 5:38: Well, with Bradley Beal out the Wizards slid Martell Webster over to the 2 guard spot and inserted Trevor Ariza into the starting lineup at small forward. Ariza already has eight points on 2-of-3 shooting, both 3-pointers, and Martell has a 3-pointer of his own in his first trip back to Target Center. Side note, I have a little girl sitting in the section to my right that has what looks to be a homemade Martell Webster t-shirt equipped with his name and a Timberwolves llogo. On the court, Williams has five points on 2-of-3 shooting and Ricky has three rebounds to lead the Wolves. WAS 19, MIN 11

Starters:
Wizards:
PG-John Wall, SG-Martell Webster, SF-Trevor Ariza, PF-Nene, C-Emeka Okafor

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

Pregame 6:10 PM: A quick update from the Wizards confirming that shooting guard Bradley Beal will not play tonight against the Wolves. Randy Wittman confirmed Beal will not play and is day to day, and that Beal is not far away. He had a good day of work today. Wittman did not say who would start in his place.

Another note on Wittman: It is his first return to Target Center as a head coach since leaving the Timberwolves in 2008. He spent a good chunk of his professional coaching career here in Minnesota as an assistant and head coach, and he said coming back is always a great feeling.

"Bringing back a lot of memories that we had here," Wittman said. "A lot of good ones here, and so anytime I come back here to Minnesota, lots of faces that I know and lot of people that I don't get to see a whole lot of that I get a chance to catch up with. From that standpoint it's nice to come back here."

Wittman as well as Don Zierden, a Minnesotan who lives in the Twin Cities in the offseason, as well as Jerry Sichting and Sam Cassell all coached or played with the Wolves, and all were part of the 2003-04 team. The Wizards will stay here in town tonight and practice at the University of Minnesota tomorrow, so it gives guys like Zierden a chance to spend some time at home.

Tipoff is set for 7 p.m., and we'll have more updates as we get closer to gametime.

Pregame 4:20 PM: Preparing for the tough task tonight of guarding John Wall, Ricky Rubio admitted that he would need help from his fellow defenders.

“He’s fast, he’s quick, he’s a smart point guard,” Rubio said. “My teammates will have to help me to stop him, because when he’s in the open court, fast break, he’s one of the best in the league. So we just have to be ready for that. We have to show him walls and get back on defense quick. Because if not, in transition he is pretty good and he is in attack mode all the time. So we just have to be ready.”

With a depleted roster due to varying injuries, Rubio noted that his eight or so available teammates will need to be well-rested going into tonight’s game.

“You have to eat well and rest well,” Rubio said, “because everyone is going to have a lot of minutes. We have a lot of players injured, but we have to be ready from the first minute and try to play an aggressive 48.”

He also added that his knee is feeling better than ever, and he doesn’t see any complications still lingering from surgery. It seemed he tweaked it in his last game against Miami, but the guard insists he feels fine.

“I was worried,” Rubio recalled. “It was the first time I felt something in the knee. But that means the surgery went well, and it was feeling better than it was before the injury. So I’m pretty happy about that.

“I feel pretty good. The muscle is back again and my knee feels comfortable. I would say I am exactly the same as i was before the injury.”

Pregame 3:30 PM: Welcome to Target Center in advance of tonight’s game against the Washington Wizards. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. on Fox Sports North and 830 WCCO-AM tonight, and it should be a pretty good matchup as the Wolves and Wizards have similar albeit flip-flopped storylines.

Washington is coming in hot by their standards, having gone 14-11 since John Wall’s return as opposed to 5-28 to start the year. That’s a pretty significant swing for this franchise, which has found consistent play from Wall, a surge in production from rookie Bradley Beal, a punch from Martell Webster and improved play from both Nene and Emeka Okafor. Beal will likely not play tonight (ankle) but Washington does have the chance to sweep their season series with Minnesota thanks to a victory at the Verizon Center on Jan. 25.

For the Wolves, it’s been the opposite. Their struggles with injuries have continued as they will be without Pek and Kirilenko for the next three games at least. That’s in addition to Love, Budinger, Lee and Roy all missing extended time. As Greg Stiemsma said during his appearance on the Wednesday Wolves Podcast today, it’s important to get a string of wins together as the season’s final two months roll on here, and that begins now. And when Budinger and Love return in a couple weeks—Budinger said he is improving each day and hopes to be in uniform for the final 15 games during a media session this morning—the team really hopes to see what it can do when playing together and laying the foundation for 2013-14.

But it all starts with a one game at a time mentality, and this is a game at home in which the Wolves can and should take advantage. The Wizards are playing good ball, but if Beal is out it would give Minnesota an opportunity to face this squad without the team’s leading scorer. He is averaging 14.3 per game this year and has scored 20 or more in five of his last nine games. He has also logged 37 minutes or more in each of his last six games.

Here are today's pregame notes:

  • The Wolves trail in the all-time series 18-26, but are 11-10 at home. The two teams have split the last six meetings. The Wizards won this season's first matchup, 114-101, at Verizon Center behind 19 points from Jordan Crawford.

  • Ricky Rubio is averaging 13.4 points, 5.2 rebounds, 9.7 assists and 3.0 steals in 35.4 minutes per game over the last 13 games. He has recorded six point/assist double-doubles over that stretch.

  • Rubio tallied his third 10x5x5x5 game of the season on Monday with 14 points, eight assists, five rebounds and a career-high-tying six steals. Rubio has recorded eight consecutive games of 5+ assists and 5+ rebounds. He has eight games this season with 4+ steals, with six of the eight coming in his last nine games.

  • Derrick Williams is averaging 21.4 points, on 48.3% shooting, and 10.0 rebounds over the last four games. During this stretch, he been the Wolves' leading scorer four times, the leading rebounder three times and recorded three double-doubles.

  • Nikola Pekovic is averaging 17.0 points, on 52.5% shooting, and 9.7 rebounds in his last 32 games (15 double-doubles). He ranks 19th in the NBA in rebounds with 8.8 rpg, 4th in offensive rebounds with 3.8 per game, 20th in double-doubles with 21 and 27th in field goal percentage at 50.9%. Pekovic has pulled down at least one offensive board in 60 straight games, the 3rd-longest active streak in the NBA (Kevin Love - 75, Tyson Chandler – 62).

  • The Wolves rank 4th in the NBA in FT attempts per game (25.7) and 5th in fewest FT attempts allowed per game (20.5). They've shot 30+ FTs 19 times and allowed less than 20 FT attempts 22 times.

  • Washington has won eight of its last 12 games. Since Jan. 7, the Wizards have compiled a 15-11 record.

  • The Wizards rank 30th in the NBA in points per game at 91.9 and 29th in field goal percentage at 43.0%. Defensively, they allow the 6th fewest points (95.4) and 4th lowest FG% (43.7%).

  • Washington has held its opponents to under 100 points in its last nine road games. This ties the Memphis Grizzlies (Nov. 2-Dec, 15) for the longest such streak in the NBA this season.

  • Bradley Beal is averaging 31.9 minutes per game -- one of just two rookies to average 30+ minutes this season (Lillard, 38.5). Beal ranks 3rd among rookies in scoring at 14.2 ppg. He is averaging 20.0 ppg on 49.3% shooting, including 46.3% from long distance, and 5.8 rebounds over his last nine games.

  • Emeka Okafor is averaging 13.3 points and 11.3 rebounds in his last six games, posting five double-doubles in that span.


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