Scouting Report: Wolves vs. Jazz

Alex Conover
Web Editorial Associate

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Wolves (19-30) vs Jazz (33-19) — 7:00 PM Target Center
Where to Watch: Fox Sports North
Where to Listen: 830 WCCO-AM

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The Wolves finally broke their eight-game road losing streak with a 100-92 victory over Cleveland. They now return to their home court to host divisional foe Utah. Tipoff from Target Center is set for 7 p.m. on Fox Sports North and 830 WCCO-AM.

Utah Breakdown

The Jazz are solid across the board statistically, finishing in the NBA’s top 10 for total points, assists, rebounds and blocks. They are led by former Timberwolves player Al Jefferson, who was the focal player for three seasons in Minnesota before departing in 2009. He is currently averaging 17.4 points per game along with 9.5 boards per game, including a 32-point, 13-rebound performance two games ago against Chicago. Paul Millsap is right behind Jefferson with 14.9 PPG and 7.3 RPG, and he is the only Jazz player to have played in all 52 games this year. Gordon Hayward, whose scoring output has steadily increased over his three seasons, is still battling a shoulder sprain.

The rest of the starting lineup includes Jamaal Tinsley, Randy Foye and Mo Williams, veteran guards that make up a group who have started the last 13 games. The unit has largely succeeded, winning eight of those 13.

Last Time Out: Jan. 2, 2013

The Wolves shot a season-low 35.5 percent from the field—including just 2-of-17 from 3-point range—as the Jazz rolled to a 106-84 victory on Jan. 2.

Utah won with the knowledge that starting guard Mo Williams would be sidelined for six weeks with thumb surgery.

"Everybody is a little heartbroken about Mo," said Derrick Favors. "But we know he's going to be all right. We just came out there and played like he was with us."

Wolves Minute: Wednesday, Feb. 13

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Andrei Kirilenko came back to Utah for the first time since signing with Minnesota, and he scored 12 points against his former squad. Alexey Shved and Kevin Love each had 13 points for the Wolves. It was an offensively-frustrating night for Minnesota, only converting 12-of-40 attempts in the second half.

The Wolves were outscored 56-36 in the paint and 25-8 on the break. Gordon Hayward (17 points) and Enes Kanter (15) both came off the bench to lead Utah in scoring.

Key Matchup: Al Jefferson and Nikola Pekovic

With a former Minnesota center coming to play against the current one, there promises to be a good battle down low tonight. Jefferson, now in his ninth season, has been a model of consistency scoring the ball for Utah, posting double-digit scoring marks for 24 straight games. Pekovic has been consistent as well, only dipping below 10 points in six games all year. On one hand, you’ve got a hardened, NBA veteran who is a descendant of the high school-to-NBA era, joining the Celtics at age 18. On the other hand is Pekovic, who came up as a 25-year-old rookie that had already experienced success overseas. They are only a year apart in age, but six NBA seasons separate the two. Watch Jefferson and Pekovic go at it and try to defend their respective baskets tonight.

Injury report presented by TSR Injury Law

The Timberwolves return home tonight closely monitoring the status of both Andrei Kirilenko and J.J. Barea. Kirilenko has missed the last four games with a strained right quad and is listed questionable tonight. Barea missed Sunday’s game with a left mid-foot sprain, then returned for limited minutes on Monday in Cleveland. For the Jazz, shooting guard Gordon Hayward has missed time with a sprained right shoulder and will likely not play until after the All-Star Break, according to Salt Lake City’s Deseret News. Guard Mo Williams is scheduled to have the pin removed from his surgically-repaired right thumb over the All-Star Break and is listed out until late-February.

 

Tonight's Probable Starters
Position Timberwolves Jazz
PG Ricky Rubio Jamaal Tinsley
SG Luke Ridnour Randy Foye
SF Mickael Gelabale Marvin Williams
PF Derrick Williams Paul Millsap
C Nikola Pekovic Al Jefferson

 


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