Scouting Report: Wolves vs. Bulls

Alex Conover
Web Editorial Associate

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Wolves (24-43) vs. Bulls (37-31) — 6 PM, Target Center
Where to Watch: Fox Sports North, WGN America
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 Wolves managed to keep their road trip from going sour with a closing win against Phoenix on Friday night. Can they keep things rolling tonight at home against Chicago? Tipoff is set for 9 p.m. on Fox Sports North, WGN and 830 WCCO-AM.

Chicago Breakdown

We knew the Bulls were lacking Derrick Rose, but Rip Hamilton (back spasms) and Joakim Noah (planar faciitis) could miss tonight’s game as well. That leaves a core of Luol Deng (16.1 PPG) and Carlos Boozer (15.6 PPG, 9.6 RPG), a pair who rallied with their remaining Chicago teammates and defeated the division-leading Indiana Pacers last night, 87-84.

The win was sorely needed for Chicago, as it came after losing six of its last eight games. This team has experienced all sorts of inconsistencies this year, the most prominent of which is Derrick Rose’s rehabilitation process. Bench players Nazr Mohammed and Daequan Cook combined for 20 points and 16 rebounds last night from the bottom of the Bulls’ rotation. Every player on this roster has the potential to be a big contributor, and it will have to be a team effort from this club until probably well after Rose’s return.

Last Time Out: Nov. 10, 2013

Despite big efforts from Andrei Kirilenko and Nikola Pekovic, the Wolves fell to Chicago 87-80 on Nov. 10, breaking a three-game winning streak. Kirilenko pitched in 11 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists to go along with Pekovic’s 18 points on 8-of-13 shooting.

"We played good tonight," Pekovic said. "Right to the end. But we had some bad moments."

The Wolves suffered a large blow to their rotation when Chase Budinger suffered a knee injury that was later revealed to be a meniscus tear, requiring surgery. He just returned to the lineup on Thursday in Sacramento after missing four months.

"They've got big people who are very active and they challenge you," Minnesota coach Rick Adelman said. "You've got to respond to it."

Minnesota held Carlos Boozer to just four points on 0-of-5 shooting, but Nate Robinson scored 18 points off the bench; Joakim Noah netted 17.

Key Matchup: Luol Deng and Andrei Kirilenko

As previously mentioned, Rose, Noah and Hamilton will all likely miss tonight’s game. That leaves Deng and Boozer as the Bulls’ only original starters. Deng, an All-Star, is averaging 16.1 PPG and reeled off point totals of 23 and 21 earlier in the month.

He’ll be matched up with Andrei Kirilenko, who since his return from injury to the lineup last week has shown his value to this team across the board on both ends of the court. In his return game against New Orlenas last Sunday, he put up two crucial blocks in the final minute that helped seal the win. Then in Friday’s win at Phoenix, he logged a game-high 20 points and added seven boards. Kirilenko provides such strong energy to go along with his intangibles. He could pose problems for the All-Star Deng on both ends of the floor tonight.

Injury report presented by TSR Injury Law

The Wolves are still without forward Kevin Love (hand), who will be re-evaluated in the next week or two on his progress moving forward. He’s been taking jumpshots at practice and his stroke is looking like it’s returning to form. Wolves forward Chase Budinger returned on Thursday at Sacramento after missing 4 ½ months after surgery to repair his lateral meniscus tear in his left knee.

Bulls fans continue to await the return of one-time league MVP Derrick Rose, who suffered a torn ACL in the first round of the playoffs last year and has been going through his recovery since. Meanwhile, shooting guard Richard Hamilton could be done for the rest of the year with a back injury and center Joakim Noah missed Saturday’s game at Indiana with plantar fasciitis in his right foot. He is currently day-to-day.

 

Tonight's Probable Starters
Position Timberwolves Bulls
PG Ricky Rubio Kirk Hinrich
SG Luke Ridnour Marco Belinelli
SF Andrei Kirilenko Luol Deng
PF Derrick Williams Carlos Boozer
C Nikola Pekovic Nazr Mohammed*

*-Started Saturday's game vs. Indiana in place of Joakim Noah, who is day-to-day

 


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