Scouting Report: Wolves vs. Hornets
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Wolves (22-41) vs New Orleans (22-44) — 6:00 PM Target Center
Where to Watch: Fox Sports North
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 Timberwolves will host yet another Sunday night game tonight as the New Orleans Hornets come to Minneapolis. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m. on Fox Sports North and 830 WCCO-AM.
New Orleans Breakdown
After sitting out the year’s first 29 contests recovering from cartilage damage in his knee, Eric Gordon returned to the Hornets’ lineup and is averaging 17 points per game. Ryan Anderson is averaging a career-high 16.6 PPG in his first season in New Orleans, and Greivis Vasquez is having a breakout season, dishing out 9.4 APG.
The Hornets’ two first-round picks are not having similar seasons, to say the least. Anthony Davis is putting up 13.0 PPG and 7.9 RPG, having started all but four of the games he has played in. Austin Rivers was benched after shooting erratically, and then his season ended when he hurt his hand in early March. The two players are 19 and 20 years old, respectively, but 2012-2013 has been much kinder to the top overall pick. Their progress and chemistry will be a storyline going into next year.
Last Time Out: Feb. 2, 2013
After a tough stretch where the Wolves lost 11 times in 12 games, they jumped out to an early lead, controlled the rest of the contest and beat the Hornets 115-86 on Feb. 2.
“It feels great,” J.J. Barea said. “It’s awesome to win like that. I think it’s good for the team, to have fun out there, play a good one for 48 minutes. The starters did a great job and then the bench did a great job. We have to use this one to get some confidence at home and keep it going.”
The win came just a day after a deflating loss to the Los Angeles Lakers the night before. And although the second-quarter lead was as high as 30 points, Minnesota’s veteran coach Rick Adelman knew not to just to conclusions.
“Still at halftime I was really nervous,” Adelman said. “I have seen it happen too many times. It's not like you won anything at halftime. With our team we better keep going. We better learn to keep playing.”
The Wolves continued to roll, especially after key contributions off the bench, including 12 points from Alexey Shved and 11 from Mickael Gelabale. Minnesota’s bench scored a whopping 68 points tonight on 66 percent shooting.
“Players coming from the bench did an amazing job today,” Rubio said. “Everyone coming from the bench was giving a little bit more.”
Besides Cunningham’s 18 points, other key contributors were Nikola Pekovic with 14 and Andrei Kirilenko with 12. The Wolves outrebounded the Hornets by a 44-28 margin and controlled the points in the paint, 58-32.
Anthony Davis led the Hornets with 18 points and was supplemented by 16 from Robin Lopez.
Key Matchup: Ryan Anderson and Chris Johnson
Known for his perimeter shooting, Ryan Anderson can be streaky. Look at his last two games: he shot 1-for-10 from long-distance against Washington a game before making 4-of-9 on Portland. His shooting numbers are very similar to last season, one where he broke out for Orlando and won the NBA Most Improved Player Award. The Hornets need Anderson and his shooting stroke to show up tonight in Minneapolis.
Fans were puzzled for weeks when Chris Johnson began receiving little to no playing time in late February, but an injury to starting center Nikola Pekovic has forced Johnson into significant minutes. He played 22 minutes in a recent win against San Antonio, recording six points, six rebounds and a perfect night from the field. His athletic ability matches up to Anthony Davis’ very well, and Minnesota will play Johnson for 15-20 solid minutes a game until Pekovic returns.
Injury report presented by TSR Injury Law
Heading into tonight’s game, Nikola Pekovic and Andrei Kirilenko are both listed as doubtful again against the Hornets. Pekovic has been sidelined with an abdominal strain, and Kirilenko has missed time with a strained left calf. For the Hornets, Austin Rivers is likely out for the season with a hand injury and Jason Smith is out for the year with a shoulder injury.