Scouting Report: Wolves at Knicks

Alex Conover
Wolves Editorial Associate

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Wolves (13-11) vs Knicks (19-7) — 4:00 PM Madison Square Garden
Where to Watch: My 29
Where to Listen: 830 WCCO-AM

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After soundly defeating a tough Oklahoma City unit, the Wolves will take a brief road trip out east to face the New York Knicks this afternoon. Tipoff is set for 4 p.m. on My 29 and 830 WCCO-AM.

Kevin Love made nine of his 20 attempts—including 4-of-9 from the perimeter—to total 28 points and help the Timberwolves to a well-rounded 99-93 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday night. Love wasn’t the only Minnesota player with a big game; rookie Alexey Shved dished 12 assists—eight in the first half—and Nikola Pekovic recorded his seventh double-double of the season with 24 points and 10 rebounds. JJ Barea might have been the star of the night, sparking the Wolves with a scorching 8-0 run in the fourth quarter where he scored every point. Barea finished with 18.

New York Breakdown

The Wolves are nearly finished with a three-game gauntlet that includes three of the best teams in the NBA, with New York being the third and final test. The Knicks’ positive attributes are clear: they can hit shots from the perimeter, they feature an elite scorer and they take care of the ball.

Defending the 3-point line is crucial against the Knicks. Carmelo Anthony is averaging a career-high 45 percent from outside, and starting guard Jason Kidd is doing the same with an identical average. Kidd, at 39 years old, has worked tirelessly to add outside shooting to his offensive arsenal, and he has proved himself over the last several seasons to be a threat from deep. Add in bench sniper Steve Novak (43 percent, tied with Anthony for most 3’s made with 56), and you’ve got multiple players who you need to keep an eye on while floating around the arc.

Anthony is in the midst of a great season. He ranks second in the league in scoring (28 points per game) and is shooting very well from outside. Add him to a Knicks lineup that has a league-fewest 278 total turnovers (10.7 per game), and you’re facing a veteran group with discipline and the potential to make a run at a moment’s notice.

Last Time Out: February 11, 2012

Four games into last year’s “Linsanity” wave, Jeremy Lin hit late free throws to put New York over the top against Minnesota, 100-98.

Kevin Love scored 32 points and grabbed 21 rebounds, but his mammoth effort was not enough to counter the Wolves’ 23 turnovers. Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire were inactive for the Knicks, but Lin, who was largely unknown as recently as a couple months prior, led his team with 20 points and eight rebounds. Additionally, Iman Shumpert scored 20 points and Landry Fields added 19. Nikola Pekovic enjoyed a double-double with 21 points and 13 rebounds for Minnesota.

Key Matchup: Andrei Kirilenko and Carmelo Anthony

Kirilenko did his job against Oklahoma City. Although Kevin Durant scored 33 points, Kirilenko wore him down defensively until Durant was visibly frustrated. A scorer like Durant can hardly be stopped; containing him might be a more realistic goal. Kirilenko, a springy 31-year-old who is moving like he’s 10 years younger, has another tough task with Carmelo Anthony today.

Anthony’s last three games have yielded 34, 45 and 30 points, respectively. He’s second in the NBA for scoring averages, second only to Kobe Bryant. As mentioned earlier, Anthony is also enjoying a dangerous year shooting from the perimeter; he’s shooting a career high average and unleashed a 7-for-12 performance from outside against Houston on Nov. 23. With Kevin Love out with an eye injury, Kirilenko will have to pick up much of the slack in defending Anthony.

Injury Report

The Wolves announced on Saturday that Love will not travel with the team because of an eye injury suffered late in Thursday’s game against the Thunder. The team has not announced who will start in his place; Derrick Williams started all nine games Love missed with his broken hand to start the season, but Dante Cunningham started when Love was ill last weekend.

For the Knicks, Amare Stoudemire has not played yet this season while recovering from left knee surgery this fall. He is reportedly getting close but will miss today’s game against the Wolves. Forward Rasheed Wallace is questionable with a left foot injury, and Marcus Camby is also questionable with a plantar fasciitis in his left foot. Baron Davis (knee) and Iman Shumpert (knee) are both out for extended periods and will not play today.

 

Today's Probable Starters
Position Timberwolves Knicks
PG Luke Ridnour Raymond Felton
SG Alexey Shved Jason Kidd
SF Andrei Kirilenko Ronnie Brewer
PF Dante Cunningham Carmelo Anthony
C Nikola Pekovic Tyson Chandler

 


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