Scouting Report: Wolves (27-28) at Blazers (37-18) | Feb. 23, 2014
Timberwolves at Blazers | 8:00 PM — The Moda Center
Where to Watch: Fox Sports North
Where to Listen: 830 WCCO-AM
Don’t look now, but the Wolves have now won three straight contests after it looked like the season was slipping away from them before the All-Star Break.
Extending the streak to four will be a challenge as the Wolves will have to play the Blazers in Portland on the second night of a back-to-back. The good news for Minnesota is that Portland will likely be without All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge. The bad news is that the Wolves could be without Kevin Martin and Nikola Pekovic and will most certainly be without Ronny Turiaf.
Portland (37-18) sits in fifth place in the West, 5 ½ games back from Oklahoma City. The Wolves (27-28) are in 10th place in the West, six games back from the Dallas Mavericks from the eighth seed.
The Wolves are 1-2 against the Blazers this season. The last road game was on Jan. 25 when the Wolves fell 115-104 in Portland on the second night of a back-to-back.
All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge led the Blazers with 21 points. Wesley Matthews added 18 points, while Mo Williams had a bench-high 16 points. Robin Lopez had his team’s only double-double, scoring 15 points while hauling in 10 boards. Damian Lillard and Nicolas Batum had 14 and 13 points, respectively.
Kevin Martin led Minnesota with 30 points, 18 coming from the 3-point line. Nikola Pekovic had 23 points and 11 rebounds. Fellow Bruise Brother Kevin Love had 15 points and 13 rebounds. Corey Brewer and Ricky Rubio had 11 and 10 points, respectively. Rubio also added 11 assists.
This Week’s Results
The Wolves are coming off of a 121-104 road win over the Utah Jazz last night. The Wolves were led by Love, who finished with 37 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists. It was his first career triple-double. He was also 6-of-10 from the 3-point line. All five starters hit double-digits when it came to scoring. Rubio added 15 points, seven assists and six rebounds. Chase Budinger and Corey Brewer had 13 points each. Dante Cunningham, who earned his third start of the season, finished with 11 points. The Wolves shot 51.2 percent from the field and 47.8 percent from the 3-point line.
Minnesota is 3-2 in its last five games.
The Blazers are coming off of a 102-94 home win over the Utah Jazz on Friday night.
Lillard led Portland with 28 points, but it took him 28 shots to do so. Wesley Matthews added 24 points. Robin Lopez stepped up for Aldridge, scoring 12 points and hauling in a game-high 18 rebounds. He also had four blocks. Mo Williams led the second unit with 13 points. The Blazers were a perfect 17-of-17 from the free-throw line.
The Blazers are 2-3 in their last five games.
What To Watch: Corey Brewer vs. Wesley Matthews
My colleague Mark Remme calls Wesley Matthews the “Wolves Killer,” and he’s right. Matthews always seems to be the guy who hits a late shot in the game to either bury the Wolves, or inch closer.
That’s no coincidence, though. Matthews is a pretty good wing player. In three games against Minnesota this season, he’s averaging 18.3 points, four rebounds and three assists per game.
Chances are that defensive-minded Corey Brewer will matchup against Matthews on Sunday night in hopes of slowing him down.
In three games against Portland this season, Brewer is averaging 14.3 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.3 assists.
For the Wolves, Martin (thumb) and Pekovic (ankle) should be expected game-time decisions, although Pekovic has a better chance of playing. Center Ronny Turiaf (bone bruise in right knee) is out indefinitely.
Portland is without a few big men. Center Meyers Leonard (sprained left ankle) will miss at least two to three weeks. Fellow center Joel Freeland (sprained right MCL) is expected to miss four to six weeks. Aldridge (strained left groin) is expected to miss one week.
|PG||Ricky Rubio||Damian Lillard|
|SG||Chase Budinger||Wesley Matthews|
|SF||Corey Brewer||Nicolas Batum|
|PF||Dante Cunningham||Dorell Wright|
|C||Kevin Love||Robin Lopez|