Scouting Report: Wolves vs. Hornets

Alex Conover
Web Editorial Associate

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Wolves (17-26) vs Hornets (15-32) at 7:00 PM, Target Center
Where to Watch: My 29
Where to Listen: 830 WCCO-AM

View Timberwolves Game Notes

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The Wolves have lost 11 of their last 12 contests, but the good news is that the last-ranked team in the West, the New Orleans Hornets, are coming to Target Center to challenge Minnesota on its home court. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. on My 29, NBATV and 830 WCCO-AM.

Hornets Breakdown

The Hornets have cooled off considerably since the last time the Wolves saw them in New Orleans on Jan. 11, having lost six of eight over the course of the last three weeks. They’re on a three-game losing streak and enter tonight’s game at Target Center with an 8-17 record on the road. But that doesn’t mean they’re not dangerous, as the Wolves found out in January. Ryan Anderson is a potential Sixth Man of the Year candidate, averaging 17.1 points per game off the bench this year. Greivis Vasquez is nearly averaging a double-double on the year with 13.9 point and 9.4 assists per game. Eric Gordon has returned and pours in 16.9 points per night.

Last Time Out: January 13, 2013

The Wolves simply couldn’t recover from a second half comeback in a 104-92 loss to the suddenly hot Hornets on January 13.

For 18 minutes it looked like Minnesota’s night. Shots were falling. The defense was producing stops. In the second half, New Orleans (11-25) came alive.

The Hornets shot 27-of-47 in the second half and didn’t allow Minnesota to put groups of stops together. In the first half, the Wolves had a stretch of 11 consecutive defensive stops. In the final 24 minutes, New Orleans got to the rim and converted in the paint.

New Orleans point guard Greivis Vasquez added 13 assists to go along with 18 points on Friday night. His play at the point helped open up options for the Hornets offensively, and they capitalized across the board. Shooting guard Eric Gordon scored 16 points, Ryan Anderson added 15 points off the bench and Al-Farouq Aminu had 12 points and 13 rebounds.

For the Timberwolves, Ridnour led the team with 20 points, Pekovic added 18 points and six rebounds and Andrei Kirilenko had 17 points and five rebounds. Forward Dante Cunningham had 12 points, and guard Alexey Shved had 11 points and seven assists.

Key Matchup: Robin Lopez and Nikola Pekovic

The Wolves gain such an important physical edge when they have center Nikola Pekovic in the lineup, not only with his physical play on the defensive end but also the way he commands attention in the paint and on pick-and-rolls on the offensive end. Since returning from a right quad contusion that kept him out of five games, he’s averaging 15.5 points and 10.5 rebounds over his past two contests. Tonight against the Hornets he’ll look to put a up similar offensive numbers as when the Wolves faced New Orleans twice earlier this season—he scored 31 points on 14-of-18 shooting on Dec. 14, and he followed it up with 18 points on 7-of-13 shooting in January.

Tonight he’ll be matched up against Robin Lopez, a center who is averaging 11.2 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. But he’s had his struggles against the Timberwolves this season, including a four-point effort against Minnesota in January. Lopez is a lanky 7-footer who will hold a height advantage over Pekovic, but will he be able the physical presence Pekovic provides in the paint? Minnesota thrives when Pekovic establishes his presence in the paint, and Lopez will be tasked with trying to slow him down.

Injury report presented by TSR Injury Law

The Wolves are as healthy as they’ve been over the last six weeks as Pekovic and guard Alexey Shved have been back for the past two games. They’re still without Kevin Love and Chase Budinger until March and without Malcolm Lee for the season. Brandon Roy suffered a setback last weekend and is still out with no timetable for return.

The Hornets have had their own injury concerns this season, particularly with Eric Gordon missing significant time in the first two months of the season, but New Orleans is healthy as they enter Minnesota tonight. No one is listed on the injury report.

 

Tonight's Probable Starters
Position Timberwolves Hornets
PG Ricky Rubio Greivis Vasquez
SG Luke Ridnour Eric Gordon*
SF Andrei Kirilenko Al-Farouq Aminu
PF Derrick Williams Anthony Davis
C Nikola Pekovic Robin Lopez

*-Has gotten night off in second of back-to-back games since returning from injury. The Hornets played last night in Denver 

 


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