Scouting Report: Wolves at 76ers
Web Editorial Associate
Wolves (7-8) at 76ers (10-7) — 6 PM, Wells Fargo Center
Where to Watch: Fox Sports North
Where to Listen: 830 WCCO-AM
View Timberwolves Game Notes
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The Timberwolves begin their two-game road trip out east with a contest against the Philadelphia 76ers that will tip off tonight at Wells Fargo Center. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. on Fox Sports North and 830 WCCO-AM.
Philadelphia comes into Tuesday night off a loss in Chicago, as Bulls guard Rip Hamilton returned from an ankle injury to ice the game in the final 20 seconds. Luol Deng’s 25 points was another difference-maker, helping the Bulls to a 93-88 decision over the Sixers. Philadelphia, who had the score tied at halftime, picked up a team-leading 23 points from Jrue Holiday and 22 from Thaddeus Young. The loss snapped Philly’s three-game winning streak.
Minnesota beat the Milwaukee Bucks 95-85 at Target Center on Friday, and following five straight defeats, the Wolves have now won two of their last three contests. The Wolves finished with two players earning double-doubles (Love had 15 points and 14 rebounds, Pekovic had 14 points and 16 boards), and Barea (15 points, five assists) and Ridnour (16 points) both had good nights as well. With five players in double-digit scoring, Minnesota had a diverse offensive attack to go along with an effective defense. Milwaukee’s bench forward Larry Sanders recorded a career night with 12 rebounds, 10 points and 10 blocks.
Last Time Out: February 19, 2012
Kevin Love made two free throws with 0.1 seconds left to put Minnesota over Philadelphia 92-91. He was impressive late, scoring 12 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter and collecting 15 rebounds.
"I can finish games. I can close games,” Love said after the game. “But it has a lot to do with my teammates. They've had my back.”
The game was tightly contested, especially in the final six minutes; neither team led by more than one point. Jrue Holiday led the Sixers, who shot 50 percent on his way to 20 points. Lou Williams had 13 points off the bench, and Andre Iguodala pitched in 13 as well. The Wolves climbed back to a .500 record with this win (16-16 overall) and got 22 points from Ricky Rubio and 17 points and nine boards from Nikola Pekovic.
Key Matchup: Kevin Love and Thaddeus Young
Young is the top rebounder (7.7 per game) for a club that has struggled with boards so far this year. The Sixers give up the third-most rebounds to their opponent on average with 44.5 per game allowed, and in their most recent loss to Chicago, they were outrebounded 50-37. Young, a sixth-year player out of Georgia Tech, is enjoying a career high in rebounding so far in 2012-2013.
Minnesota, on the other hand, is the fifth-leading rebounding team in the NBA, collecting an average of 45.3 per game. They are led by Love, a player who is regarded as perhaps the best rebounder in the league today; he has averaged 15.3 boards per game since returning from his hand injury, and he has not had less than 12 in a game this year. He has turned rebounding into his own art form, and it is crucial that the Sixers do their best to limit him in the battle down low.
The Timberwolves will again be shorthanded tonight in Philadelphia, as starting small forward Andrei Kirilenko did not make the trip and will not be available. He’s been battling back spasms for about a week and continued to sit out practice on Sunday and Monday. Josh Howard has been starting in his place. Minnesota did get forward Kevin Love (illness) and guard Malcolm Lee (groin) back at practice on Monday. Love said he will play tonight, while Lee is listed as questionable. Lee missed Friday's game against Milwaukee, and JJ Barea started at shooting guard in his place.
The 76ers continue to play without All-Star center Andrew Bynum, who came to Philadelphia in the offseason’s blockbuster, four-team deal involving Dwight Howard’s move to Los Angeles. Bynum is out indefinitely due to bilateral bone bruises and a weakened cartilage state in his knees, according to the 76ers’ official website, and has not played a game for Philadelphia. Guard Nick Young suffered a hyper-extended left big toe on Nov. 30 against Charlotte and is a game-time decision against the Wolves.
|Tonight's Probable Starters|
|PG||Luke Ridnour||Jrue Holiday|
|SG||JJ Barea||Jason Richardson|
|SF||Josh Howard||Evan Turner|
|PF||Kevin Love||Thaddeus Young|
|C||Nikola Pekovic||Lavoy Allen|