Scouting Report: Wolves (16-16) vs. Thunder (25-7) | Jan. 4, 2014

Scouting Report: Wolves (16-16) vs. Thunder (25-7) | Jan. 4, 2014


Timberwolves vs. Thunder | 7:00 PM — Target Center

Where to Watch: Fox Sports North Plus

Where to Listen: 830 WCCO-AM

View Timberwolves Game Notes

The Wolves will get their second opportunity to get above .500 this week, and they hope it goes better than their first try.

On Monday, the Wolves had the Mavericks at home and fell 100-98 with the game ending on a controversial no-call that should have sent Kevin Love to the free-throw line for two shots. The league admitted that Shawn Marion had fouled Love as time expired and Love should have been awarded two free-throws. But what’s done is done and after beating the Pelicans on Wednesday, the Wolves are 16-16 and have a chance to get over the .500 hump against the Thunder on Saturday night. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. on Fox Sports North Plus and 830 WCCO-AM.

Oklahoma City currently ½ game back of first place in the Western Conference, but the Thunder got the tough news that All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook won’t be available until after the All-Star break after undergoing knee surgery last week.

It will mark the second time this season that Minnesota will have faced Oklahoma City without Westbrook.

Last Meeting

The two teams have played twice this season and have each won on its home court. The last game was played on Dec. 1 in Oklahoma City. The Thunder came away with a 113-103 win over the Wolves behind 32 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds from Kevin Durant. Westbrook added 19, while Reggie Jackson pitched in with 18 off the bench. Serge Ibaka finished with 15.

The Wolves were led by former Thunder guard Kevin Martin who finished with a team-high 24 points, eight coming from the free-throw line. Nikola Pekovic and Love each had double-doubles. Pekovic scored 22 points and hauled in 10 rebounds, while Love had 16 points and 10 rebounds. Wingman Corey Brewer added 10 points.

The Wolves shot just 41.6 percent from the field compared to Oklahoma City’s mark of 56.3 percent.

This Week’s Results

Minnesota is coming off of an impressive 124-112 New Year’s win over the New Orleans Pelicans. Seven players for Minnesota scored in double-digits with Pekovic leading the way with 22. Love added 21, Martin had 20, J.J. Barea with 17, Ricky Rubio with 14 and Dante Cunningham and Alexey Shved each had 10. The Wolves bench had 42 points after having just five in Monday’s loss to the Mavericks on Monday.

The Wolves are 3-1 in their last four games having beat the Pelicans, Bucks and Wizards. The lone loss came to the Mavericks on Monday.

The Thunder lost a tough 95-93 game at home to the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday night. Joe Johnson hit a buzzer-beater to give the Nets the win.

Durant led Oklahoma City with 24 points. Ibaka had 10 points and 11 rebounds. Perry Jones was the only other player to score more than 10 points, as he put up 11 in 30 minutes and 10 seconds of play.

Previous to that the Thunder had lost a close home game to the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday. Oklahoma City is 3-2 in its last five games.

What To Watch: Kevin Love vs. Kevin Durant

This isn’t just the “Battle of the Kevins” anymore. It’s become the battle of two of the NBA’s best players.

Love is coming off of a month of December in which he led all NBA scorers with 30 points per game. Durant wasn’t far behind, averaging 29.4 points per game during that same stretch. Those point totals were more than four points ahead of the LaMarcus Aldridge, who was third on the list.

If you look at the league’s category leaders, Durant and Love are popular names on the list. Durant leads the league in scoring for the season with 28.8 points per game. Love is second with 26.3 points per contest. The former UCLA star leads the league with 13.5 rebounds per game. Durant isn’t too far behind, hauling in 8.5 per game, which ranks 30th in the NBA.

Perhaps the most important stat of them all, Love ranks third in player efficiency with a mark of 28.4 while Durant is second at 28.7.

Durant has his team playing fantastic ball right now, but without Westbrook the pressure will be on him. Love has already had to carry much of the load for Minnesota, but with Minnesota’s bench playing better in three of its last four games, that has the potential to open things up even more for the big man.

Injury Report

The Wolves will be without wing Chase Budinger, who is out while recovering from preseason left knee surgery. The good news is that Budinger has been cleared to practice for Minnesota. Center Ronny Turiaf has returned for 3-on-3 pickup games, but he is still out indefinitely. Both players are expected to miss Saturday’s game.

Oklahoma City All-Star guard Russell Westbrook underwent his third knee surgery in eight months and is out indefinitely. Westbrook has played in 25 games this season.

Probable Starters
  Timberwolves Thunder
PG Ricky Rubio Reggie Jackson
SG Kevin Martin Thabo Sefolosha
SF Corey Brewer Kevin Durant
PF Kevin Love Serge Ibaka
C Nikola Pekovic Kendrick Perkins


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