Scouting Report: Wolves vs. Suns

Alex Conover
Web Editorial Associate

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Minnesota Timberwolves (29-50) vs Phoenix Suns (24-55) at 7:00 PM, Target Center
Where to Watch: My29

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!

 


After a brief road trip out west, the Wolves return to Target Center and will host the Suns tonight to start their final homestand of the season. Tipoff is set for 7:00 PM on My29 and 830 WCCO-AM.

Phoenix Breakdown

While the Wolves have admittedly fallen short of their goals for the season, Phoenix is doing much worse. Collecting just 24 wins and sitting at the bottom of the West, the Suns just recently broke a 10-game winless streak. The 10th loss in that run was directly due to a Jermaine O’Neal goaltending call... that’s how the season has gone for Phoenix.

Marcin Gortat, the top rebounder and third-leading scorer, suffered a foot injury about a month ago and has not played since. Goran Dragic has been a model of consistency for an erratic squad, leading Phoenix in scoring (14.7 PPG) and assists (7.2 APG).

Last Time Out: March 22, 2013

With the help of an outstanding shooting performance from Dante Cunningham, the Wolves snapped a nine-game road losing streak with a big 117-86 win over Phoenix on March 22.

"We kind of prevented them to score from inside and forced them to take shots outside," Andrei Kirilenko said. "They took a lot of shots that they couldn't make."

The Suns were forced to use Hamed Haddadi as their lone healthy center with Jermaine O’Neal and Marcin Gortat both injured. Minnesota shot over 50 percent en route to a convincing victory.

"Regardless of who's not here, this is an opportunity for some of our guys," Suns coach Lindsey Hunter said. "You've got to take advantage of the opportunity to play, and I don't think guys did that."

Cunningham had 18 points on 8-of-11 shooting for the Wolves. Kirilenko led all scorers with 20, and Greg Stiemsma added 14.

Phoenix—whose last three losses were by an average of 21—was led by Luis Scola (17 points, 12 boards) and Goran Dragic (13 points, 10 assists).

Key Matchup: Luis Scola and Derrick Williams

It seems like Scola usually plays well against the Wolves. He dropped 33 points on Minnesota at Target Center earlier in the year, and he had a double-double on March 22. Phoenix needs him to step up in place of Marcin Gortat, one of their most consistent players who held down the low post all year until he suffered a midfoot sprain.

The biggest influence on Scola would likely be Nikola Pekovic, but he missed Friday night’s game in Utah with a left calf contusion and is listed as questionable tonight. Offensively, one player in the Wolves’ front court who needs to be active against Phoenix is power forward Derrick Williams. After putting together the best scoring month of his career in March (15.5 points per game), Williams has dropped down to about 11.0 points per night in April but has still reached double figures in five of seven games this month. He is also shooting 42.9 percent from 3-point range in April, tying for his best efficiency from behind the arc in a month this season. With Scola, the Suns’ regular power forward, moving to the 5 in place of Gortat, Williams has the opportunity to impact this contest if he can get out in transition and get a couple shots to fall from distance.

Injury report presented by TSR Injury Law

The Wolves got Dante Cunningham back on Friday night in Utah after he missed Wednesday’s game against the Clippers with a sore right hamstring. He finished with eight points and four boards against the Jazz. Nikola Pekovic missed Friday night’s game with a left calf contusion and is listed as questionable tonight. For the Suns, center Marcin Gortat has not played since March 6 after suffering a midfoot sprain and will likely miss the rest of the season. Channing Frye has missed the entire season after doctors detected he had an enlarged heart prior to the campaign.

 

Tonight' Probable Starters
Position Wolves Suns
PG Ricky Rubio Goran Dragic
SG Luke Ridnour Wes Johnson
SF Andrei Kirilenko P.J. Tucker
PF Derrick Williams Markieff Morris
C Nikola Pekovic Luis Scola

 


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