Scouting Report: Wolves vs.Bulls
Wolves Editorial/Social Media Associate
Wolves (3-6) at Bulls (8-2) - 7 PM Target Center
Where to Watch: FS North/NBA TV
Where to Listen: 830 AM WCCO
After falling to the Toronto Raptors 97-87 on the road Monday night, the Minnesota Timberwolves return to the Target Center for their third game in three days to face the Eastern Conference powerhouse Chicago Bulls.
The Bulls, who came up short against the Atlanta Hawks Saturday night (104-94), got back on track with a convincing 92-68 win over the Detroit Pistons Monday night, to move to 8-2.
Minnesota, now 3-6, is 17-9 against Chicago over the past 14 years and has won 10 of the last 13 meetings at the Target Center.
Leading the Pack
Back in the lineup for Minnesota Monday was JJ Barea, who scored a season-high 16 points while Kevin Love, Luke Ridnour and Derrick Williams each added 13 points. However, against Toronto, the Wolves’ starting five failed to put points on the board and combined for a season-low 37 points. Love improved his double-double streak to nine games this season with his 13-point, 14-assists performance.
For Chicago, Carlos Boozer and Derrick Rose continued to lead the way, putting up 23 and 22 points respectively against the Pistons on Monday. Boozer is averaging 14.9 points and 8.3 rebounds per contest. Center Joakim Noah is contributing 7.5 rebounds and 1.0 blocks per night in the paint.
Key Matchup: Derrick Rose vs. Wolves point guard platoon
The Wolves’ point guards led the way last night in Toronto, as Ridnour, Barea and Ricky Rubio all played and pieced together a combined 39 points. All three reached double-figures in scoring as Barea scored 16, Rinour scored 13 and Rubio added 10. Ridnour went 6-of-9 from the floor, Barea’s return included his patented fearless drives to the hoop and Rubio had six of the team’s 14 assists.
Rose has continued to shine at the point for the Bulls. The 2010-11 Most Valuable Player, who led the Bulls to the Eastern Conference Finals last year, is putting up 19.7 points and 8.4 assists per contest this year. He’s scored 20 or more points five times this season, and his top performance of the year was a 29-point, 16-rebound effort against the Clippers on Dec. 30. Rose’s versatility will be an intriguing matchup for the Wolves’ group of guards.
Stealing the show
The Timberwolves’ active hands on defense have helped the Wolves rack up eight steals in each of the past three games against the Cavaliers, Wizards and Raptors. Rubio led the way last night with three of his own. The Wolves have had eight or more steals four times this season, including a game-high 11 against the Heat on Dec. 30.
Wolves forward Michael Beasley suffered a right midfoot sprain against Cleveland last Friday and has missed both games on the road trip. Wes Johnson again started at small forward last night, and Wayne Ellington started his second consecutive game at shooting guard. Bulls C.J. Watson and Richard Hamilton both missed Monday’s game against the Pistons. Watson was out with a strained left elbow while Hamilton was out with a sore left groin.
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