Scouting Report: Wolves vs. Bobcats
Wolves (13-16) vs. Bobcats (3-25) - 7 PM Target Center
Where to Watch: Fox Sports North
Where to Listen: 830 AM WCCO
*Get your questions on the radio airwaves during halftime! Just tweet questions to @WolvesRadio and listen to the halftime show hosted by John Focke on WCCO 830 AM.
Raised expectations has changed the complexion of the Timberwolves franchise this season. A year ago, Minnesota strung together four or more losses seven times, but in 2011-12 the team’s current four-game losing skid is not only unexpected, it’s unacceptable.
The Timberwolves look to return to the wins column tonight against the Charlotte Bobcats at Target Center. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.
Minnesota won six of its previous eight games and eclipsed the .500 mark for the first time this late in a season since 2006-07 prior to its recent losing skid, a stretch in which turnovers have plagued the Timberwolves to the tune of 28 against Dallas on Friday and 23 against the Knicks on Saturday. They’ll look to get back on track against a Charlotte squad that is 1-14 on the road this season and is currently in the midst of a 15-game losing streak.
The last time the Bobcats won a game was Jan. 14, when they defeated Golden State 112-100.
By the numbers
At 100.8 points per night, the Bobcats are allowing the second most points per game in the NBA this season—second only to Sacramento’s 101.3. The Wolves could use a spark offensively, as they have failed to reach 90 points in two of their past four games. The most consistent part of Minnesota’s lineup as of late has been the duo of power forward Kevin Love and center Nikola Pekovic in the paint. Love is still second in the league in rebounding (13.9 RPG), fourth in scoring (25.3 PPG) and first in double-doubles (25), while Pekovic is averaging 15.4 points and 10.0 rebounds in his last 10 games. Forward Corey Maggette leads the Bobcats with 5.4 rebounds per game—power forward Boris Diaw is second at 5.3 boards a night—meaning Love and Pekovic could have big nights on the glass. Pekvoic alone has more offensive rebounds (71) than Boris Diaw (29) and Bobcats center Byron Mullens (35) combined.
Players to Watch: Ricky Rubio and Kemba Walker
Bobcats rookie guard Kemba Walker was the story of last spring’s NCAA tournament, leading Connecticut to a national championship in a season in which he averaged 23.5 points per game. Walker earned the Most Outstanding Player award in the Final Four and seemingly willed the Huskies to the title. As a rookie with the Bobcats, Walker is averaging 12.9 points and 4.0 rebounds per game. He’s coming off a 21-point, 5-assist performance against Philadelphia on Monday in which he hit three 3-pointers and played 39 minutes. He’s been called upon lately as starting point guard DJ Augustin has missed the last 11 games with a toe injury, though Augustin could return tonight.
Timberwolves rookie guard Ricky Rubio continues to reside near the top of most statistical categories associated with point guard play. His 8.7 assists per game ranks fifth in the NBA, and his 2.38 steals per game is first in the league. He is second in the NBA with 11 point-assist double-doubles—his last being a 13-point, 11-assist effort in Minnesota’s 100-91 win over Houston on Feb. 4.
The Timberwolves started shooting guard Martell Webster on Monday in place of Luke Ridnour, who missed the Orlando game for personal reasons. Ridnour was back at practice on Tuesday and coach Rick Adelman said he expects Ridnour to return to the lineup tonight. Ridnour is averaging 11.2 points per game this season. Webster played 23 minutes, scored five points and added four rebounds against the Magic.
Bobcats injury woes
Charlotte has endured its share of injuries this season, including two of its main contributors. Guard Gerald Henderson, who leads the team with 15.0 points per game, has missed seven of the past 10 games with back and hamstring injuries. Maggette has played in three straight games since missing 19 straight with a hamstring injury—he scored 22 points against the 76ers on Monday. The Charlotte Observer reports that Augustin could return and even start against the Wolves tonight. He averaged 13.6 points and 6.6 assists per game before missing the past 11 games.
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