Scouting Report: Wolves at Wizards
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Wolves (17-22) at Wizards (9-31) — 6:00 PM Verizon Center
Where to Watch: Fox Sports North Plus (Channel Listings In Your Area)
Where to Listen: 830 WCCO-AM
View Timberwolves Game Notes
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The Wolves lost a hard-fought game on Wednesday against the visiting Brooklyn Nets, and they will look to get things back on track with an eastern road trip this weekend. The back-to-back starts today against Washington. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. at Verizon Center on Fox Sports North Plus and 830 WCCO-AM.
The Wizards have only won nine games, mostly due to their offense being stuck in slow-motion. Their offensive points average—90.9 per game—is last in the league. They’re also posting a league-worst team shooting percentage with .417. It’s obviously hard to win games without scoring points. Their defense isn’t bad, and allowing 96.7 PPG puts them at 12th in the NBA. But the offensive struggles have been bad enough to place them at 9-31, the least number of wins in the NBA.
One positive for Washington is the return of their most talented guard, John Wall. After sitting out the first chunk of the season due to injury, Wall has played in the Wizards’ last seven contests and has scored double-digits in all but one of them. Jordan Crawford leads the team in scoring with 14.8 points per game, and rookie Bradley Beal is right behind him with 13.6. Nené has been holding down the post with 12.4 points per game, and Emeka Okafor is the team’s top rebounder with 8.0 RPG.
Last Time Out: Jan. 8, 2012
The Washington Wizards dropped to 0-8 and were booed by their home crowd as they lost to the Minnesota Timberwolves 93-72 on Jan. 8, 2012. It was the teams’ lone meeting last season.
Only mustering 12 points in the fourth quarter, the Wizards scored their fewest points in a game since 2009. Nick Young and Trevor Booker scored 14 each to lead Washington.
"There's really not much to say," then-Washington coach Flip Saunders said. "Disappointment. Embarrassment. I don't know if words can explain. My job over the next two days is to try to find five guys who can play the right way and can play with some heart.”
Kevin Love scored 20 points and pulled down 16 rebounds. Wayne Ellington made the most of his start at guard, scoring 13 points on 5-for-8 shooting. Ricky Rubio came off the bench and had a double-double with 13 points and 14 assists.
Key Matchup: John Wall and Ricky Rubio
Wall didn’t make his season debut until Jan. 12 after recovering from a knee injury. Since then, he’s been very solid for Washington, scoring 14 PPG over 25 MPG off the bench. Is he ready to start yet? Washington fans must be clamoring for more minutes from Wall; there isn’t much hope otherwise for a team that sits at the bottom of the league’s win column.
Ricky Rubio is coming off a tough matchup against Deron Williams, another athletic point guard that came through town with Brooklyn on Wednesday. Wall, although thinner than Williams, is arguably more explosive and is showing good burst coming back from his injury. Rubio voiced his frustrations after Wednesday’s loss, airing concerns about his team’s will to win, but it’s been a tough season personally as well. This road trip is a must-sweep for Minnesota, and improved play from Rubio would do a lot for the team’s chances.
The Wolves took the road trip without guard Alexey Shved (sprained left ankle) and center Nikola Pekovic (right quad contusion). Shved is the closer of the two to recovery, and he was doing a full-court workout to test that ankle after practice on Thursday before being ruled out for the weekend.
For the Wizards, power forward Cartier Martin is out with a hyper-extended left knee.
|Tonight's Probable Starters|
|PG||Ricky Rubio||A.J. Price|
|SG||Luke Ridnour||Bradley Beal|
|SF||Andrei Kirilenko||Martell Webster|
|C||Greg Stiemsma||Emeka Okafor|