Scouting Report: Wolves at Bucks
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Minnesota Timberwolves (27-46) at Milwaukee Bucks (36-37) — 7:00 PM Target Center
Where to Watch: Fox Sports North
Where to Listen: 830 WCCO-AM
View Timberwolves Game Notes
Got questions during tonight’s game? Send them to Wolves Radio via Twitter using the hash tag #WolvesRadio!
The Wolves have now won four of their last seven contests, including convincing victories over playoff-bound teams like Boston and Oklahoma City. Can they get their first back-to-back win since December? We’ll find out tonight in Milwaukee as the Wolves face the Bucks at the Bradley Center. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. on Fox Sports North and 830 WCCO-AM.
Milwaukee is slated as the No. 8 playoff seed in the West, and they’ve got a sizeable lead on the next team up, Philadelphia. But Philly beat the Bucks 100-92 on March 27, a contest where Brandon Jennings was not happy about only playing 17 minutes and scoring zero points before being benched. The Bucks are 4-8 over the last 12 games, and they seem destined for a hellish first-round matchup against the juggernaut Miami Heat.
Monta Ellis leads the Bucks with 19.4 PPG, Jennings is next with 17.4 PPG and newcomer J.J. Reddick is bringing 12.3 PPG off the bench. But depending on how this season finishes, all three players could be gone by next year. Other pieces include Ersan Ilyasova (13.1 PPG, 7.1 RPG) and elite rim protector Larry Sanders (9.9 PPG, 9.5 RPG, 2.9 BPG).
Last Time Out: Nov. 30, 2012
After a string of losses, the Timberwolves got back on track as they beat the Milwaukee Bucks 95-85 at Target Center on Nov. 30.
“I thought it was just a really solid win for us,” coach Rick Adelman said. “After coming off that road trip and everything, we really defended well all night long. Even when they made their run in the third quarter, we defended well enough to keep the lead and then made some plays in the fourth quarter.”
The first half was back-and-forth with the lead changing 15 times, but Minnesota assumed a 10-point lead at half with the help of Kevin Love (12 points), Nikola Pekovic (12 points) and JJ Barea (11 points). All three players shot over 50 percent before halftime, contributing to a solid team rate of 48 percent.
“Just trying to score whenever they give it to me,” Pekovic said. “That’s what I was doing.”
After the halftime break, Minnesota maintained their lead—although the path to victory was not without its speed bumps. Milwaukee came within a single point midway through the fourth quarter, but rookie Alexey Shved ignited for the Wolves and helped them on an 11-0 run. Shved scored 10 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter.
Milwaukee was led by bench forward Larry Sanders who recorded a triple-double with 12 rebounds, 10 points and 10 blocks. Monta Ellis led the Bucks in scoring with 18, supplemented by John Henson and Brandon Jennings who had 10 each.
Minnesota’s victory came after Love made a game-time decision to play, having been ill for the last two days with a stomach virus.
Key Matchup: Larry Sanders and Nikola Pekovic
After playing role player minutes his first two seasons, Larry Sanders has emerged as one of the league’s best young shot-blockers in 2012-2013. Second only to Oklahoma City’s Serge Ibaka in blocks per game, Sanders averages 2.9 rejections per contest. He’s also on the verge of averaging a double-double with 9.9 PPG and 9.5 RPG. Wolves fans will recall Sanders’ incredible triple-double the last time he came to Target Center, as he logged 12 rebounds, 10 points and 10 blocks. Yes, 10 blocks.
Is it a coincidence that the Wolves keep winning when Pekovic does well? Probably not. He had 22 points against Oklahoma City, and Minnesota won. Then, Pek sits out against the Grizzlies and the Wolves lose. Most recently, Pekovic dumped 15 first-quarter points on the Celtics before finishing with 29 and leading all scorers in another win. With Kevin Love injured, Pekovic holds down the low paint and provides consistency. A major assignment of his tonight will be to prevent the roaming Sanders from getting his hands near the Timberwolves’ shot attempts.
Injury report presented by TSR Injury Law
The Wolves got Nikola Pekovic back on Monday after missing Saturday’s game with a sprained left ankle. Minnesota continues to await word on how Kevin Love’s progress is coming along and if he will play again this year. For the Bucks, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute is questionable tonight with an illness.
|Tonight's Probable Starters|
|PG||Ricky Rubio||Brandon Jennings|
|SG||Luke Ridnour||Monta Ellis|
|SF||Andrei Kirilenko||Marquis Daniels|
|PF||Derrick Williams||Ersan Ilyasova|
|C||Nikola Pekovic||Larry Sanders|