Scouting Report: Wolves at Clippers
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Minnesota Timberwolves (29-48) at Los Angeles Clippers (51-26) — 9:30 PM Staples Center
Where to Watch: Fox Sports North Plus
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 first installment of Minnesota’s western road trip soured late as Golden State pulled away in the second half. The Wolves will look to topple the Clippers tonight at Staples Center in the tail end of back to backs. Tipoff is set for 9:30 PM on 830 WCCO-AM and Fox Sports North Plus.
L.A. Clippers Breakdown
The Wolves lost to a team fighting to clinch a playoff spot last night; tonight they face the Clippers, a team that had already secured a postseason berth. “Lob City” has earned it, as they have converted a fifth-best 47.7 percent rate from the field this year. In fact, their only major statistic outside of the top 20 league-wide is their free throw shooting.
Blake Griffin logged an incredible 36 straight games in double-digits scoring earlier this year as the 24-year-old has developed into one of the most powerful, aggressive players around the rim in the NBA. Chris Paul is L.A.’s second-most prolific scorer with 17 PPG, and speaking of double-digits, bench spark extraordinaire Jamal Crawford has totaled them in all but one of his last 26 contests.
They’re just a good team. Could you ever imagine a few years ago that the Clippers would be sitting fourth in the West, while Kobe and the Lakers would be fighting to hold onto the eighth seed?
Last Time Out: Jan. 30, 2013
The Wolves did most things right in coach Rick Adelman’s first game back, but certain categories came back to haunt them in the final box score.
Despite shooting well from the field and winning the turnover battle, Minnesota still gave up too many rebounds and missed key free throws on their way to a 96-90 loss to the visiting Los Angeles Clippers on January 30.
“They are a great team,” Nikola Pekovic said. “They came to play a good game all the way to the end. We just missed some luck. I think that when we start winning games and we turn around this thing, we are going to get it.”
Adelman returned from a personal leave of absence where he was caring for his ailing wife. After the Clippers built a lead as high as 11 in the third quarter, Minnesota battled back with an 11-2 run and came within two points.
"I told them at the timeout, 'you have two choices here—are you going to give in or are you going come back in and make it a game and battle?'” Adelman said of the third quarter. “I think we had a lot of adversity.”
The lead went back-and-forth until the game’s final minute, when a spinning shot in the paint from Blake Griffin converted and put him at the free-throw line; he made for the 3-point play to put the Clippers up by six. From there, the Wolves played the foul game.
Griffin finished with 26 points and 13 rebounds and was joined in the double-double club by DeAndre Jordan [16 points, 12 rebounds] and Eric Bledsoe [10 points, 10 assists].
Pekovic led the Wolves with 17 points and 12 rebounds; bench players Barea and Shved scored 14 and 12 points, respectively.
Key Matchup: DeAndre Jordan and Nikola Pekovic
Who else in the NBA is as big, long and athletic as Jordan? Maybe JaVale McGee, but he’s not as strong. Neither is Anthony Davis. Jordan truly is a specimen, and he enjoyed a double-double against Minnesota last time with 16 points and 12 rebounds. Containing Blake Griffin is a task in itself, and the attention that he demands tends to leave Jordan open for some of the easiest dunks you’ll ever see.
The good news for Minnesota is that Pekovic is coming off a week where he put up exceptional numbers, and he was recognized for his efforts with a Player of the Week award. He averaged 25.0 points and 8.5 rebounds while shooting 58.9 percent last week. The bad news? Pekovic scored just five points last night against Golden State. Let’s hope that he can get a quick turnaround and go back to his prolific ways from last week.
Injury report presented by TSR Injury Law
The Wolves are stable in the injury department for the moment after news of Kevin Love’s impending knee surgery this week was released Monday. He’ll be sidelined 4-6 weeks until he’s fully recovered to resume full activities, meaning he’ll be out the rest of this season. For the Clippers, Chauncey Billups (hip) is listed as questionable tonight and Trey Thompkins (knee) is out indefinitely.
|Tonight's Probable Starters|
|PG||Ricky Rubio||Chris Paul|
|SG||Luke Ridnour||Willie Green|
|SF||Andrei Kirilenko||Caron Butler|
|PF||Derrick Williams||Blake Griffin|
|C||Nikola Pekovic||DeAndre Jordan|