Scouting Report: Wolves vs. Nuggets
Web Editorial Associate
Wolves (9-9) vs. Nuggets (11-11) — 7 PM Target Center
Where to Watch: FS North
Where to Listen: 830 WCCO-AM
Two teams battling for position in the middle of the Western Conference face off when the Denver Nuggets visit the Minnesota Timberwolves tonight at Target Center.
This Nuggets team was the recipient of Minnesota’s surprise Kevin Love start when the All-Star forward returned from missing the first nine games of the year with a broken right hand. Still, the Nuggets overcame an energetic Timberwolves first half and pulled away late for a 101-94 win.
“[The Nuggets are] a very experienced team, a good team, they beat us already here,” forward Andrei Kirilenko said. “We started last game very good but we couldn't finish it and I hope we can do it [tonight]."
The Wolves have won three of their last four contests, most recently a victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Dec. 7. Kevin Love had a nice night on both ends, leading the Wolves with 36 points and 13 assists along with holding his matchup Anderson Varejao to just four points on 2-for-10 shooting. While Varejao collected a game-high 14 rebounds, the Cavaliers didn’t lead at any point in the night and went another game without injured point guard Kyrie Irving. Luke Ridnour added 12 points and seven assists to help Minnesota get back to a .500 mark.
Denver is coming off a 101-94 win in Detroit on Tuesday and will be playing the tail end of back-to-backs tonight. Ty Lawson dropped 26 points in the win and Andre Iguodala added 12 to round out the starting back court, but it was the bench play that helped solidify the victory. Reserves Corey Brewer had 15 points, JaVale McGee had 12 and Andre Miller had 11 off the bench. The win gives Denver a boost coming into Target Center, as they had lost five of seven coming into Tuesday's contest.
Last Time Out: November 21, 2012
A faulty third quarter spoiled Kevin Love’s surprise debut, as the Wolves dropped a 101-94 game against the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday at Target Center.
Love shocked everyone an hour before tipoff when it was announced he would play for the first time this year against the Nuggets, and he looked like he didn’t skip a beat from last season. Love collected a double-double (34 points, 14 rebounds) in 34 minutes, shooting an effective 48 percent from the field.
Besides Love, Minnesota also welcomed back injured players Nikola Pekovic and JJ Barea. Pekovic recorded 10 points and seven rebounds, while Barea collected 12 points.
“We had a great first half,” Barea said. “Everyone came in with a lot of energy. Kevin gave a great boost to start the game, but third quarter they made adjustments. At halftime they started getting stops, and we just got stuck. That third quarter killed us.”
Gallinari led Denver with 19 points, and Iguodala and Lawson contributed 18 each. Kenneth Faried snagged a team-high 14 rebounds before fouling out in the fourth quarter.
Key Matchup: Kenneth Faried and Kevin Love
While last game’s matchup involved Love and Anderson Varejao, tonight’s game will feature another fierce battle of the boards. Faried sits at 11th in the league with a square 10 rebounds per game, and Love maintains his No. 2 spot averaging 14.2. Nuggets coach George Karl said during the team’s last trip to Minnesota that Denver’s gameplan is to play at the rim and adjust from there. Faried’s athleticism, positioning and energy make him a strong asset in that philosophy.
Love vastly outscored Varejao on Friday (36 points to 4), but Varejao still racked up 14 rebounds in the process. That’s the same amount that Faried collected on November 21, when Denver beat Minnesota by seven; Love must work against Faried tonight in order to cut down on his opponents’ offensive opportunities.
The Timberwolves have not ruled guard Ricky Rubio out for tonight’s game, but they also haven’t made any comments regarding his return. Adelman continues to say it will be a joint decision between the coaching staff, front office and medical staff. If it happens tonight, it would likely be a gametime decision.
The Nuggets remain relatively healthy this season, although they did lose small forward Wilson Chandler to a hip injury. He is not expected to play until possibly when Denver returns home Friday against Memphis.
|Tonight's Probable Starters|
|PG||Luke Ridnour||Ty Lawson|
|SG||Malcolm Lee||Andre Iguodala|
|SF||Andrei Kirilenko||Danilo Gallinari|
|PF||Kevin Love||Kenneth Faried|
|C||Nikola Pekovic||Kosta Koufos|