Scouting Report: Wolves at Jazz

Alex Conover
Wolves Editorial Associate

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Wolves (14-13) vs Jazz (15-17) — 8:00 PM EnergySolutions Arena
Where to Watch: Fox Sports North
Where to Listen: 830 WCCO-AM

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The Minnesota Timberwolves take a trip out west to face Utah and Denver in successive nights—two divisional foes that will likely be in the thick of the Western Conference playoff picture at the end of the season. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. on Fox Sports North and 830 WCCO-AM.

Kevin Love, Nikola Pekovic and Andrei Kirilenko rallied together for an incredible effort—combining for 71 total points and 32 rebounds—in a 111-107 win over the Phoenix Suns on Saturday night.

On a night where Ricky Rubio sat out due to back spasms, Alexey Shved stepped up as a distributor and impact player. The rookie dished out 10 assists and scored 12 points—including some crucial late free throws to ice the game.

“I thought the second half he was a lot better,” Adelman said of Shved. “He made plays. We didn't have to make great plays, we just had to make solid plays.”

Saturday night was the first game all season where three Minnesota players scored over 20 points, with Kirilenko (20), Love (23) and Pekovic (28) all enjoying good nights shooting. Love and Pekovic added 18 and 11 rebounds, respectively, to record their double-doubles. JJ Barea and Derrick Williams each pitched in 10 points as well.

Utah Breakdown

Utah is in the midst of a rough patch, having only won two of their last nine games. Al Jefferson, a former Minnesota player from 2007-2010, is Utah’s most statistically productive player with averages of 17 points and 10 boards per game; right behind him is longtime Jazz forward Paul Millsap (14.4 PPG, 7.8 RPG).

Gordon Hayward is averaging 13.2 points per game, and Mo Peterson is fourth in scoring with 12.9 PPG. Peterson, however, has been sitting out since Dec. 22 with a sprained thumb and is out indefinitely.

Last Time Out: March 15, 2012

Paul Millsap racked up 18 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists and Gordon Hayward dropped 26 points off the bench when Utah defeated Minnesota 111-105 on March 15, 2012.

Kevin Love led the Wolves with 25 points and 16 rebounds; Luke Ridnour also had a double-double with 18 points and 13 assists. Nikola Pekovic added 20.

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"We just couldn't get a rebound when it mattered," Love said. "We played them tough, they played tough, but they prevailed in the end because they made the plays."

This game was Minnesota and Utah’s first meeting since the Feb. 22 thriller at Target Center when Luke Ridnour made a last-second floater to clinch a Wolves win.

Key Matchup: Al Jefferson and Kevin Love

On July 13, 2010, the Timberwolves became Kevin Love’s team. That was when Al Jefferson departed Minnesota for Utah, and the Wolves franchise’s spotlight was shifted to the young forward. Since then, Love has cemented himself as one of the league’s prominent young players.

When Jefferson faces his old team tonight, it comes at a point in the season where the middle portion of the Western Conference is extremely tight. There are only a couple of wins separating Minnesota and Utah, and every win counts—especially in the highly competitive Northwest Division. Every game matters, and this matchup could go either way. Watch how Jefferson tries to score against Nikola Pekovic and the rebounding battle between Millsap and Love.

Injury Report

The Wolves will be without Ricky Rubio on this two-game trip to Utah and Denver as he stayed back in Minnesota to rehab his back. He missed Saturday’s game against Phoenix with back spasms. That means newly-acquired Lazar Hayward will be the Wolves’ fourth option at guard behind Luke Ridnour, Alexey Shved and JJ Barea. Hayward has practiced with the Wolves twice since signing.

Utah power forward Marvin Williams missed the team’s Dec. 30 game against the Clippers due to inflammation in his right knee. He is listed as questionable tonight against the Wolves. Point guard Mo Williams will not be available tonight as he is out indefinitely with a right thumb injury.

 

Tonight's Probable Starters
Position Timberwolves Jazz
PG Luke Ridnour Jamaal Tinsley
SG Alexey Shved Gordon Hayward
SF Andrei Kirilenko DeMarre Carroll*
PF Kevin Love Paul Millsap
C Nikola Pekovic Al Jefferson

*-Started last game in place of Marvin Williams

 


For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Timberwolves and Mark Remme on Twitter, and join the conversation at WolvesNation.com.