Scouting Report: Wolves at Bobcats
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Wolves (17-23) at Bobcats (10-32) — 6:30 PM Time Warner Cable Arena
Where to Watch: Fox Sports North
Where to Listen: 830 WCCO-AM
View Timberwolves Game Notes
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The Timberwolves dropped the first part of their road trip on Friday night to the Wizards, and now they’ll look to split the difference today against the Charlotte Bobcats. Tipoff is set for 6:30 p.m. on Fox Sports North and 830 WCCO-AM.
The Bobcats are tied with the Wizards for the fewest wins in the league, and they weathered a 17-game losing streak earlier this season. Unlike Washington, a team that suffers from offensive ineptitude, Charlotte’s weakness has been defense; it sits 29th in the league in both points allowed per game and defensive rating.
Kemba Walker is a rising young star, posting averages of 17.7 points and 1.9 steals per game. The next two top scorers for the Bobcats come off the bench in Ramon Sessions (14.6 PPG) and Ben Gordon (13.1 PPG). Charlotte’s top rebounder, Byron Mullins, sits out with an ankle injury, and Bismack Biyombo and/or Hakim Warrick will likely end up manning the post as they have for the last few games.
Last Time Out: Nov. 5, 2012
Kemba Walker drained a jumper with 0.7 seconds left, stifling a 16-point Wolves comeback in the final moments as the Bobcats stole an 89-87 victory over Minnesota at Target Center on Nov. 5.
Walker’s shot iced a game in which the Wolves struggled early but made a fierce fourth quarter comeback.
“We gave ourselves a chance, but the guy made a tough shot,” coach Rick Adelman said. “We needed to play the start of the game the way we played the fourth quarter—and we didn't do that. We missed a lot of shots and a lot of free throws.”
Kirilenko led the Wolves in points and rebounding, scoring 26 and collecting 12 boards. Luke Ridnour enjoyed a double-double as well, netting 16 points and dishing 10 assists. Cunningham and Lou Amundson each had three blocks in an 11-block effort that was a team season-high.
Minnesota’s toughest statistic was easily its shooting percentages and slow start—until the fourth quarter, the Wolves shot 33 percent from the field and 15 percent from the perimeter. They also shot 52 percent from the free throw line [11-21], their third-worst single-game percentage in team history.
Key Matchup: Andrei Kirilenko and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, although sitting sixth in scoring at 10.1 PPG, is the team’s most efficient shooter (.481 from the field) and also ranks third in rebounds per game with 6.1. Kidd-Gilchrist was lauded coming into this summer’s draft as a do-it-all player, and he showed enough to convince Charlotte’s decision makers to select him at No. 2 overall. So far so good, as he has done enough to at least enter the Rookie of the Year conversation on a losing squad.
Kirilenko is highly important to the Wolves’ success this weekend, as he is the top scorer, rebounder and steal-producer who is both healthy and active. An issue may be that he isn’t exactly known for his scoring; he’s more of an all-around producer that can make an impact on both ends. While players like Luke Ridnour and Chris Johnson have seen success lately, the Wolves need Kirilenko to step up and provide steady scoring. It may not be what he’s best at, but it’s what Minnesota needs right now.
The Wolves continue to play without Alexey Shved (sprained left ankle) and center Nikola Pekovic (right thigh contusion) on this road trip. The Bobcats will likely be without center Byron Mullens until February with an ankle injury.
|Tonight's Probable Starters|
|PG||Ricky Rubio||Kemba Walker|
|SG||Luke Ridnour||Gerald Henderson|
|SF||Andrei Kirilenko||Michael Kidd-Gilchrist|
|PF||Derrick Williams||Hakim Warrick|
|C||Greg Stiemsma||Bismack Biyombo|