Scouting Report: Wolves at Bobcats
Wolves (24-27) at Bobcats (7-40) - 6 PM Time Warner Cable Arena
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.
The Timberwolves know that with 15 regular season games remaining, it’s time to make their move for the playoffs. They’ll have to string together some wins in order to overcome the 3.5-game deficit separating them from the final two playoff spots in the Western Conference. The Wolves get their chance to start that streak against a reeling Charlotte Bobcats team tonight.
Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. at Time Warner Cable Arena.
The Wolves suffered a 93-86 defeat to the Grizzlies on Monday. Wolves forward Kevin Love scored a game-high 28 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, and Wayne Ellington added 15 points off the bench. Grizzlies forward Rudy Gay finished with 21 points for the Grizzlies with Dante Cunningham adding season highs of 13 points and 14 rebounds.
The Bobcats come off a 102-95 loss at home to the Boston Celtics on Monday. Charlotte’s bench outscored the Celtics reserves 59-9 led by 18 points from Byron Mullens and 16 from Derrick Brown, but aside from Bobcats guard Gerald Henderson’s 21 points, all of the Bobcats’ starters scored 5 points or fewer. Celtics forward Paul Pierce posted a game-high 36 points and 10 rebounds, and forward Kevin Garnett added 24 points.
Charlotte’s struggles area season-long. They’re 3-11 so far in March, which is the most wins they’ve had in a month this season. The Bobcats are currently on a four-game losing streak—their last win was March 17 against Toronto—and are 4-18 at home this season.
Last time out
The Wolves have faced the Bobcats only once this season, coming out with a 102-90 victory Feb. 15 at Target Center. After a slow start gave the Bobcats an early nine-point lead and a two-point halftime lead, the Wolves took charge, ending the third quarter on a 10-0 run.
Love gave the Wolves a game-high 30 points and 18 rebounds, while center Nikola Pekovic added 21 points and 11 rebounds. Wolves' reserve guard JJ Barea finished with 12 points and eight assists.
Bobcats guard Kemba Walker had 21 points on the night, while forward Corey Maggette contributed 18 points. Center Boris Diaw had 14 points, nine rebounds, and seven assists.
Wolves Minute with John Focke
In their last matchup with the Wolves, Bobcats guard Gerald Henderson was absent due to a hamstring injury that caused him to miss nine games in February. Prior to his injury, Henderson was the Bobcats' leading scorer, and since his return, he is second only to forward Corey Maggette. Henderson led the Bobcats in scoring March 23 with a 29-point game against the Bucks and on March 26, scoring 21 points against the Celtics.
Adding to his arsenal
It’s no secret that Kevin Love has been sharp from 3-point range this season, but on Tuesday against Memphis it officially became a career milestone. Love set a personal best for 3-pointers made in a season, hitting four in the game to bring his total to 91. His previous best was last season’s 88. That means in 47 games this season, Love has attempted and made (91-for-238) more 3-pointers than he had in any previous 82-game season (88-for-211 last year). He’s made 216 shots from behind the arc in his career.
Ellington continues to shine
Wolves guard Wayne Ellington continues to make an impact when he’s on the floor. Ellington finished with 15 points against Memphis, good for second on the team behind Love. He played 27 minutes, shot 6-for-10 from the floor and hit a pair of 3-pointers—including one that cut the Grizzlies’ lead to 88-83 late in the fourth quarter. He scored 15 of the team’s 20 bench points in the game.
The Timberwolves will again be without both center Nikola Pekovic and guard JJ Barea tonight, each of whom did not make the two-game road trip. Pekovic is still hampered with bone spurs in his right ankle, while Barea is sidelined with a right thigh contusion. Forward Michael Beasley continues to be slowed by his sprained great toe on his left foot. He played 11 minutes against Memphis, scoring 3 points on 1-of-2 shooting from the field.
The Wolves, currently sitting 3.5 games behind the Denver Nuggets and Utah Jazz for the last two playoff slots in the West, are certainly not out of the playoff hunt. But with only 15 games remaining in the season, every game matters. Tonight’s game against the Bobcats represents the start of an eight-game stretch against beatable opponents, before rounding out the season against more competitive foes, like Oklahoma City and Los Angeles Clippers. To keep their playoff hopes alive, the Wolves need to capitalize on tonight’s game against the Bobcats to set the tone for the coming weeks.
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