Scouting Report: Wolves vs. Wizards

Alex Conover
Web Editorial Associate

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Wolves (20-37) vs Wizards (19-39) — 7:00 PM Target Center
Where to Watch: Fox Sports North
Where to Listen: 830 WCCO-AM

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The Wolves will look to earn a win against the Washington Wizards tonight, an Eastern Conference foe that already beat Minnesota on its own home court earlier this year. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. on Fox Sports North and 830 WCCO-AM.

Washington Breakdown

It’s almost been the tale of two seasons for the Wizards. Formerly 5-28 and with little hope, John Wall returned from injury on Jan. 12 and has since led Washington to a 14-11 record. His impact on the club is huge, as they are winning games after being formerly stuck as the league’s worst offense. And they’re not just beating up on easy opponents; they’ve recorded wins against the Blazers, Bulls, Clippers, Knicks and Nets with Wall in company.

The top scoring threat all year has been rookie Bradley Beal, a shooting guard picked up out of Florida who is averaging 14.2 PPG; unfortunately for Washington, he will likely sit out today’s game with an ankle sprain. Wall is averaging 13.9 points and 7.3 assists per game, and Nene is the top big man with 12.7 PPG and 6.9 RPG. Former Timberwolves guard/forward Martell Webster comes back to town with a career-best shooting percentage (.457) and scoring average (10.8 PPG).

Last Time Out: Jan. 25, 2013

Riding a four-game home winning streak, the Washington Wizards came away with a 114-101 victory over the Timberwolves on Jan. 25.

John Wall made his first start of the season after coming off the bench for seven games and shot 6-for-10 with 14 total points.

"I think I'm still trying to get in basketball shape," Wall said. "And it's still tough, but I think I'm getting closer and closer."

Wolves Minute: Wednesday, March 6

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The Wizards improved their record to 5-3 with Wall after going 5-28 without him. Jordan Crawford added another 19 points and Bradley Beal pitched in 16.

Minnesota, losing its sixth straight on the road and eighth of nine overall, was pushed by 18 points and 11 rebounds from Derrick Williams along with 17 points from Andrei Kirilenko. The Wolves played tonight with six of the players on their roster not playing due to injury.

Key Matchup: John Wall and Ricky Rubio

John Wall has led his team to 14-11 since coming back. For some franchises that might not be such a hot record, but for the Wizards that’s a huge improvement from their prior 5-28 mark. Statistically he’s actually not playing that well—with just 41 percent shooting, a bad turnover rate and a single converted 3-pointer—but he’s been feeding Bradley Beal and has brought energy to the league’s worst offense.

To avoid a second loss this season to the Wizards, Ricky Rubio simply must continue to do what he is doing. Unfortunately, that’s easier said than done. Rubio has now averaged 13.4 points and 9.7 assists over his last 13 games, and Monday’s loss to Miami was his third 10x5x5x5 performance of the year. He’s been big on the defensive end as well, recording four or more steals in eight games this year. When the Wolves need a spark, Rubio’s long arms and active feet can provide a great jump-start to a fast break; he and his teammates must push the pace against the extra-slow Wizards to break their current cold streak.

Injury report presented by TSR Injury Law

The Wolves announced on Tuesday that both center Nikola Pekovic (abdominal strain) and forward Andrei Kirilenko (left calf strain) will miss the rest of this week and will be re-evaluated next week. That means they’ll be out for tonight’s game against Washington, Saturday’s game against Denver and Sunday’s game against Dallas. For the Wizards, rookie guard Bradley Beal is listed as doubtful for tonight’s game with a left ankle injury.

 

Tonight's Probable Starters
Position Timberwolves Wizards
PG Ricky Rubio John Wall
SG Luke Ridnour Garrett Temple
SF Mickael Gelabale Martell Webster
PF Derrick Williams Nene
C Greg Stiemsma Emeka Okafor

 


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