Scouting Report: Wolves vs. Bucks
Web Editorial Associate
b>Wolves (6-8) vs. Bucks (7-6) — 7 PM Target Center
Where to Watch: My 29
Where to Listen: 830 WCCO-AM
View Timberwolves Game Notes
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After a four-game road trip out West, Minnesota returns home to the Target Center faithful to host the surprising Milwaukee Bucks tonight. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. on My 29 and 830 WCCO-AM.
The Easter Conference Central Division-leading Bucks have a dynamic back court and a knack for winning on the road. They’re 4-2 away from the Bradley Center this season, including a win in Chicago after trailing the Bulls by 27 points on Monday. Both teams are in need of victories, as Milwaukee is 1-3 in its last four and Minnesota is 1-6 in its last seven.
Milwaukee dropped their latest contest to the Knicks and a red-hot Carmelo Anthony at home on Wednesday, 102-88. Anthony shot 50 percent from the field—including 3-of-4 from the perimeter—on his way to 29 points. Steve Novak dropped in another 19 points on 7-for-10 shooting, adding five 3-pointers of his own. The Bucks, who were led by Brandon Jennings (18 points) and Monta Ellis (17 points), allowed the Knicks to shoot 52 percent from outside.
Minnesota suffered a loss on Wednesday night as well, but their contest was much closer. The score was tight even in the last 30 seconds, when Alexey Shved hit a 3-pointer to bring the Wolves within two points. A DeAndre Jordan basket and four consecutive Chris Paul free throws sealed it for the Clippers, who broke a four-game losing streak. Kevin Love had another double-double with 19 points and 12 boards, and he was joined by teammate Nikola Pekovic who logged 11 points and 10 rebounds of his own. Shved came off the bench to provide 17 points.
Last Time Out: December 27, 2011
Still looking for their first win of the season, a 31-point night from Kevin Love was not enough as the Minnesota Timberwolves lost 98-95 to the Milwaukee Bucks.
Minnesota, who was without coach Rick Adelman for personal reasons, gained 33 points off of free throws—including 19 from Love alone. Love also grabbed 20 boards en route to his fifth career 30-20 game.
Brandon Jennings led Milwaukee with 24 points, and Stephen Jackson also added 16. Rookie Jon Leuer shot 5-for-7 for 14 points, and the Bucks overcame a dreadful night from the 3-point line (13 percent) to earn their first home win.
Key Matchup: Monta Ellis and Malcolm Lee
It was clear against the Clippers that Malcolm Lee is the top defensive option in Minnesota’s back court. When Chris Paul was winding down the shot clock and holding out for a shot, Lee was assigned to him. There were even points where Chauncey Billups would set a pick on Lee, trying to force a switch so Luke Ridnour would be guarding Paul. No matter how raw Lee may look at times on the offensive end, he is truly athletic and physically gifted, making him Minnesota’s best stopper on the perimeter.
He’ll have his hands full with Monta Ellis tonight, as the 27-year-old guard who was acquired by the Bucks midway through last season is averaging a cool 18.9 points per game. Lining up next to Ellis is Brandon Jennings, another highly active guard who is shooting at the best rate of his young career. Adelman will be looking to Lee early and often to provide resistance to Ellis and a very athletic Milwaukee back court.
The Timberwolves were without small forward Andrei Kirilenko on Wednesday in Los Angeles, as the veteran was a pre-game scratch due to back spasms. Kirilenko had played at least 35 minutes in each of his previous eight games and more than 40 minutes in four of those contests. He’s a valuable piece for the Wolves not only because of his veteran presence and crafty court vision, but he also gives the team length on the perimeter and is a fearless defender. He impacts the game on both ends of the court. Kirilenko is listed as questionable tonight. If he’s not able to go tonight, forward Josh Howard will likely start in his place as he did in L.A.
|Tonight's Probable Starters|
|PG||Luke Ridnour||Brandon Jennings|
|SG||Malcolm Lee||Monta Ellis|
|SF||Andrei Kirilenko*||Tobias Harris|
|PF||Kevin Love||John Henson|
|C||Nikola Pekovic||Samuel Dalembert|
* - Questionable for tonight