Scouting Report: Wolves vs. Nuggets
Web Editorial Associate
Wolves (5-4) vs. Nuggets (5-6) — 7 PM Target Center
Where to Watch: Fox Sports North
Where to Listen: 830 WCCO-AM
View Timberwolves Game Notes
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Two Northwest Division teams fighting for position meet when the Nuggets visit the Timberwolves tonight at Target Center.
Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. on Fox Sports North and 830 WCCO-AM.
The Nuggets broke a three-game losing streak on Monday when they defeated the Memphis Grizzlies, 97-92. While Memphis headed into the game with an 8-1 record, Denver rode Danilo Gallinari and his success from the free-throw line (10-for-11) to victory. Gallinari finished with 26 points—a season high—including a 3-pointer with 13 seconds left to clinch the win for the visiting squad. Javale McGee pitched in 15 points and eight rebounds, while the energetic Kenneth Faried added a double-double with 13 points and 13 boards.
Minnesota suffered a second-straight loss, doing so with only nine healthy players as they dropped Friday night’s contest to Golden State, 106-98. They lost a lop-sided battle in the paint, as the Warriors outscored the Wolves down low by a 58-22 margin. David Lee led the charge for Golden State, racking up 18 points and 13 rebounds. Minnesota’s Derrick Williams led all scorers with 23 points, and rookie Alexey Shved recorded 22 points and seven assists as he continues to gain valuable fourth-quarter minutes.
The paint will be a pivotal part of tonight’s game, considering the Wolves were outscored by 36 there last game against the Warriors. Denver is leading the league with 52.2 points per game in the paint. But center Nikola Pekovic practiced the last three days and sounded optimistic he would be able to return tonight, meaning the Wolves should have his physical presence in the lane. That will help defensively with shot attempts near the rim in Denver’s half court sets, particularly because Minnesota gave up 17 offensive rebounds without him last game against Golden State.
Last Time Out: April 26, 2012
In the final regular season game for both teams, the Denver Nuggets shot 63 percent from the field and clinched the sixth seed in the Western Conference playoffs with a 131-102 win over the slumping Wolves.
Newly-acquired big man JaVale McGee had his fourth straight game scoring in double digits, collecting 19 points to lead all scorers. Minnesota allowed 80 points in the paint, giving up another 15 points each to Kenneth Faried and Timofey Mozgov. Veteran guard Andre Miller came off of Denver’s bench to drop 10 assists.
JJ Barea led Minnesota with 20 points on 7-of-13 shooting, supplemented by Nikola Pekovic’s 18 points and 10 rebounds. The loss capped a frustrating April where the Wolves won only one game of 13 the entire month; the last few did not include star Kevin Love (concussion). The game was also a send-off for Brad Miller, a 14-year NBA veteran with plans to retire after the season.
Key Matchup: Shooting Guard Production
Andre Iguodala, an eight-year veteran, came to Denver in a blockbuster offseason trade that also included All-Stars Andrew Bynum and Dwight Howard. He has started this season as his team’s third-leading score (13.5 PPG) and second-leading rebounder (6.5 RPG), starting all 11 contests thus far. Iguodala made the NBA All-Star team for the first time in 2012, and capped a successful summer by earning a Gold Medal with the U.S. Men’s basketball team. He is an athletic talent in the prime of his career, and he will be a big test for the Wolves’ young shooting guards.
Alexey Shved has been gradually improving in his rookie year, with the recent Golden State loss being his best individual showing thus far. He scored 22 points on an efficient 8-of-17 shooting and also dished out seven assists. Although he has not started a game yet, he usually subs in early and has recorded over 20 minutes of playing time in each of his last five games. Can he keep going with this upward trend? Or will Iguodala assert himself over the young wing?
Wolves center Nikola Pekovic (sprained left ankle) has been sidelined since leaving in the second half against Dallas, but he's practiced the last three days and said he expects to play tonight against the Nuggets. Guard JJ Barea also sounded optimistic about his chances to play Wednesday after Tuesday's practice, but he said he would be evaluated prior to gametime. Pekovic is listed as probable, while Barea is listed officially as doubtful for tonight's game.
|Timberwolves Probable Starters|
|PG||Luke Ridnour||Ty Lawson|
|SG||Malcolm Lee||Andre Iguodala|
|SF||Andrei Kirilenko||Danilo Gallinari|
|PF||Derrick Williams||Kenneth Faried|
|C||Nikola Pekovic||Kosta Koufos|