Scouting Report: Wolves (32-32) vs. Kings (23-43) | March 16, 2014
Timberwolves vs. Kings | 6:00 PM — Target Center
Where to Watch: Fox Sports North
Where to Listen: 830 WCCO-AM
The Timberwolves return home tonight after a quick one-game road trip to Charlotte, and they’ll host the Sacramento Kings at Target Center for the second and final time in 2013-14. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. on Fox Sports North and 830 WCCO-AM.
The Wolves left for the East Coast on Friday hoping to climb two games over .500 for the first time in nearly four months. The last time was Nov. 19, when the Wolves sat at 7-5. Since then, they’ve skipped back and forth across that .500 barrier and will try to get back across again tonight. If they do, they will match their best win total in a season since 2005-06. And with back-to-back road games in Texas against Dallas and Houston coming up, it’s important to take care of business tonight at home.
But the Kings are full of athletes, and that means they from time to time can cause matchup problems. They’ll need to handle Rudy Gay, DeMarcus Couins and others tonight, because they do have the ability to get on rolls. Minnesota will hope to get Kevin Love and Kevin Martin rolling as they’ve been over the past week.
The Wolves are 1-1 against the Kings this season, with the last game coming on March 1 in Sacramento.
Kevin Martin led Minnesota with 26 points, while Kevin Love finished with 22 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists. Nikola Pekovic added 20 points and wingman Corey Brewer had 13 points and two steals. The Wolves got the free-throw line 38 times and made 28 of them.
Rudy Gay finished with a team-high 24 points. Speedy point guard Isaiah Thomas added 22 points to go with eight assists. DeMarcus Cousins was the only other player to score in double-digits, finishing with 21 points and 15 boards. The Kings turned the ball over 19 times.
This Week’s Results
The Wolves went 1-2 over the past week, which was a tough stretch considering the importance of victories here with a month to play and the team sitting six games back of the eighth spot. They lost 111-104 at home to the Raptors on Sunday, then bounced back with a strong finish and a 112-101 win over the Bucks at home on Tuesday. That put the Wolves a game over .500, but the Bobcats brought them back to 32-32 by beating the Wolves 105-93 on Friday night in Charlotte. Minnesota is 2-3 in its last five but still 6-4 in its last 10.
Sacramento has been a team that has pockets of victories sprinkled inside longer losing streaks throughout the season. Right now the Kings are trying to get back on track after dropping four of their last five. They’ve had a busy week leading into Sunday, having lost to the Nets 104-89 last Sunday, then falling to the Pistons 99-89 on Tuesday before beating the Sixers 115-89 on Wednesday. They then fell 94-87 on Saturday to the Bulls. This is the second back-to-backs the Kings will play this week.
What To Watch: Nikola Pekovic vs. DeMarcus Cousins
Talk about two guys you don’t want to get in a fight with. These two are considered two of the most physical centers in the league, but have great offensive touch at the same time.
Cousins has been a talent since he got into the league, but he’s continued to get better and his having a season deemed worthy of All-Star consideration last month. He didn’t make the Western Conference squad, but he was in the conversation because of his career-best stats across the board. His 22.2 points per game, 11.7 rebounds per game and 48.7 field goal percentage are all career highs. Pekovic is on a similar trajectory. His 17.7 points and 9.0 rebounds per game are both career-highs, and he’s also shooting 53 percent from the field. They’re both physical, and they’ll both test each other with that physicality inside. This, as always, should b ea fun matchup to watch inside.
In two games against Minnesota this season, Cousins is averaging 20.5 points and 14.5 rebounds per game. Pekovic is averaging 17 points and 8.5 rebounds in those same games.
Minnesota center Ronny Turiaf (bone bruise in right knee) is out indefinitely.
Sacramento shooting guard Jason Terry (left knee surgery) and forward Carl Landry (torn meniscus in right knee) will miss the remainder of the season.
|PG||Ricky Rubio||Isaiah Thomas|
|SG||Kevin Martin||Ben McLemore|
|SF||Corey Brewer||Rudy Gay|
|PF||Kevin Love||Derrick Williams|
|C||Nikola Pekovic||DeMarcus Cousins|