Scouting Report: Wolves at Suns

Alex Conover
Web Editorial Associate

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Wolves (23-43) at Phoenix (23-46) — 9 PM US Airways Center
Where to Watch: My29
Where to Listen: 830 WCCO-AM

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Got questions during tonight’s game? Send them to Wolves Radio via Twitter using the hash tag #WolvesRadio!

 

Dante Cunningham had a last-second chance at a tie, but the Wolves ended up falling last night in Sacramento, 101-98. The Wolves have lost the last four of five games, but they have a chance to turn things around in Phoenix tonight against the Suns. Tip-off is set for 9 PM at US Airways Center on My29 and 830 WCCO-AM.

Phoenix Breakdown

The Wolves are in a bit of a slide, but the Suns have lost five of their last six. Something has to give. This is Minnesota’s chance to regain traction, as Phoenix ranks in the bottom 10 league-wide in points per game, points allowed per game and pace.

Goran Dragic leads his team in scoring with 14.1 points per game and dishes out 7.0 assists per game. After him, five of the Suns’ players are averaging within 10.2 and 12.2 PPG, including Luis Scola, Marcin Gortat, Jared Dudley, Shannon Brown and Michael Beasley. Gortat is the top rebounder with 8.6 RPG, Familiar faces Wes Johnson and Sebastian Telfair, both former Wolves, come off the bench along with Jermaine O’Neal and the Morris twins.

Last Time Out: Feb. 26, 2013

With the help of some clutch shooting from Marcin Gortat in overtime, the Suns defeated the Wolves 84-83 to end a three-game losing streak.

"We made it a little tougher on ourselves, but we will take it," Suns interim coach Lindsey Hunter said. "We still just for some reason do not finish quarters the way we are supposed to."

The Wolves scored a season-low 33 points in the first half, and then Phoenix scored just 11 points in the third quarter. Both offenses stalled for significant periods.

A 3-pointer from Derrick Williams cut the Wolves’ deficit to just a single point, but Alexey Shved’s layup attempt at the last moment rolled inconveniently out of the rim.

"You've got to make plays in this league and we're going to have to learn how to make those plays," Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman said. "It's as simple as that."

Nikola Pekovic had a double-double for Minnesota with 18 points and 12 rebounds, while Derrick Williams had one of his own with 21 and 12. Ricky Rubio gave out 10 assists.

Marcin Gortat, Wes Johnson and Markieff Morris each had 14 points to pace Phoenix.

Wolves Minute: March 22, 2013

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Key Matchup: Goran Dragic and Ricky Rubio

Dragic, the lefty from Slovenia, is averaging a career-high 14.1 PPG, but he has been thrust into a central scoring role in a below-average offense. While players like Beasley and Scola certainly have potential to score more points, Dragic has been consistent in hitting double-digit point totals in seven of his last eight games. In his first game against Minnesota this season, he racked up 16 points and 12 assists... but that was when Ricky Rubio was still sidelined with his knee injury. On February 26, Dragic made just 4-of-14 shots with Rubio defending him.

Yes, Rubio is defensively gifted along with his well-known passing abilities. He limited Dragic in their last run-in, and he has shown an ability for picking up steals along with points and assists. His defense can be game-changing, and Minnesota needs him to spread his scrappy mentality among his teammates in order to stop the Suns.

Injury report presented by TSR Injury Law

The Wolves welcomed back Chase Budinger last night in Sacramento, as he played his first game since suffering a lateral meniscus tear in his left knee in early November. With Budinger back, it marked the first time since Dec. 7 that Minnesota had 12 players available for a game. For the Suns, Marcin Gortat is likely out until April with a sprained right foot and Jermaine O’Neal is questionable tonight with a calf injury.

 

Tonight's Probable Starters
Position Timberwolves Suns
PG Ricky Rubio Goran Dragic
SG Luke Ridnour P.J. Tucker
SF Andrei Kirilenko Wes Johnson
PF Derrick Williams Markeiff Morris
C Nikola Pekovic Jermaine O'Neal*

*-Questionable for tonight's game


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