Scouting Report: Wolves (9-11) at Pistons (10-11) | Dec. 10, 2013

Scouting Report: Wolves (9-11) at Pistons (10-11) | Dec. 10, 2013


Timberwolves at Pistons | 6:30 PM — The Palace of Auburn Hills

Where to Watch: Fox Sports North

Where to Listen: 830 WCCO-AM

View Timberwolves Game Notes

The new-look Detroit Pistons have gotten mixed results from their squad so far this season.

Fortunately for them, mixed results gets you the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference. Detroit currently sits at 10-11, one of five teams with a record below .500 in the top-8 in the East.

During the offseason, the Pistons acquired point guard Brandon Jennings and forward Josh Smith.

Jennings is averaging 17 points and 8.1 assists per game and for a team with limited offensive weapons, he’s been a nice addition. Smith, who played a lot of power forward for the Atlanta Hawks, has had more of a struggle fitting in on a team with big men Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe. Smith is most effective when playing in the post, rather than out on the perimeter. He’s averaging 13.9 points per game, well below his career average, and is shooting just 38.9 percent from the field.

The Pistons have won four of their last five games, though, so things seem to be on the right track after starting 6-10.

The Wolves head into the game with a 9-11, hoping to take advantage of two Eastern Conference teams this week (the Wolves host Philadelphia on Wednesday) to move back to .500.

Last Meeting

The two squads battled on April 6 last season at the Target Center and Minnesota came away with a 107-101 win thanks to 45 bench points.

Wolves Minute

Dec. 10, 2013

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J.J. Barea led the second unit with 20 points and six rebounds, while Dante Cunningham and Chase Budinger scored 13 and 10 points, respectively. Nikola Pekovic led the starters with 20 points and 13 rebounds. Derrick Williams (now with Kings) finished with 14 points. Andrei Kirilenko (now with Nets) had a nice all-around game, scoring 13 points, grabbing six rebounds and finishing with seven steals. The Pistons as a team had just 10 steals. Ricky Rubio finished with 10 points, five rebounds, six assists and five steals. Rubio shot just 1-of-13 from the field, though.

The Pistons were led by Brandon Knight (now with Bucks). The former Kentucky guard scored 25 points and was 3-of-4 from the 3-point line. Rodney Stuckey added 20 points off the bench. The only other player to hit double-digits for the Pistons was Greg Monroe, who finished with 16 points.

The Wolves forced 24 turnovers in the game.

This Week’s Results

Coincidentally, both teams are coming off losses to the Miami Heat.

The Wolves hosted the defending champions on Saturday and fell 103-82. Minnesota was without All-Star power forward Kevin Love, who was attending his grandmother’s funeral.

To say the Wolves could have shot better would be like saying it’s cold in Minnesota. The mark of 29.3 percent from the field was the worst mark in franchise history. Despite that, four of the five starters hit double-digits in the scoring column. Kevin Martin led the way with 19 points and was 8-of-10 from the free-throw line. Pekovic finished with 18 points and 12 rebounds. Defensive stoppers Corey Brewer and Luc Mbah a Moute had 13 and 11 points, respectively.

Previous to that the Wolves fell to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Dec. 1.

Detroit faced the Heat on Sunday night and lost 110-95. The Pistons had seven players hit double-digits, but allowed Miami to shoot 55.6 percent from the field.

Brandon Jennings and Andre Drummond each scored 19, and Drummond also brought in 14 rebounds. Josh Smith finished with 13 points and Jonas Jerebko added 12. Greg Monroe, Kyle Singler and Charlie Villanueva all ended up with 10 points.

The Pistons were on a four-game winning streak going into that game, having beaten the Philadelphia 76ers, Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks and Chicago Bulls since Dec. 1.

What To Watch: Nikola Pekovic vs. Andre Drummond

The ninth pick of the 2012 NBA Draft certainly looks like a steal right now. Drummond, a product of Jim Calhoun and UConn, is averaging 13.5 points, 13 rebounds (third in NBA), 1.4 blocks per game, while shooting 63.5 percent (first in NBA) from the field. Drummond is a liability at the free-throw line, though, shooting just 38 percent from the charity stripe.

Drummond isn’t going to fool you with his shot selection. Out of his 200 shot attempts this season, 195 have come in the restricted area.

He will be going up against Minnesota’s bruiser, Pekovic.

Pekovic is averaging 15.7 points and 8.9 rebounds per game this season and has been especially hot of late, putting up double-doubles in four of his last five games. He’s finished with at least 18 points and nine rebounds in each of those five games. He’s a much better free-throw shooting, averaging 70.9 percent on the season.

With the tandem of Drummond and Greg Monroe, it will be important for Pekovic and Love to get position down low.

Injury Report

The Wolves will be without wing Chase Budinger, who is out while recovering from preseason left knee surgery. Center Ronny Turiaf is out indefinitely with a radial head fracture in his right elbow.

The Pistons have been hit hard lately at the guard position. Chauncey Billups (knee) likely won’t play against the Wolves on Tuesday. Fellow guard Rodney Stuckey (knee) and Will Bynum (knee) are questionable. Expect Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to continue to get the majority of the shooting guard minutes.

Probable Starters
  Timberwolves Pistons
PG Ricky Rubio Brandon Jennings
SG Kevin Martin Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
SF Corey Brewer Josh Smith
PF Kevin Love Greg Monroe
C Nikola Pekovic Andre Drummond


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