Scouting Report: Wolves at Clippers

Scouting Report: Wolves at Clippers

Kelsey Kroll
Wolves Editorial/Social Media Associate


Wolves (6-8) vs. Clippers (8-4) - 9:30 PM Staples Center
Where to Watch: ESPN
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 Minnesota Timberwolves head west to take on the Los Angeles Clippers at the Staples Center tonight. Coming off two straight wins, Minnesota looks to put together three in a row in front of a national audience on ESPN. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. The Wolves went 1-3 against the Clippers last year, and L.A. is off and running this season with a roster full of talent. The Clippers are 7-1 at home this year, and even with point guard Chris Paul out nursing a hamstring injury they went 2-1 in their first back-to-back-to-back of the season. Minnesota has a 2-3 record away from Target Center but has played strong basketball on the road.

What to watch for: Power forward paradise

Tonight’s matchup pairs two of the league’s top power forwards in Kevin Love and Blake Griffin. Griffin's flashy dunks cannot be taken lightly as he continues to lead the team in scoring, averaging 21.3 points per game while also averaging 11.8 rebounds. Meanwhile, Love leads the league with 14 double-doubles and is averaging 25.2 points and 14.5 rebounds per game, ranking fourth and second respectively in those categories. He also continues to lead the league in minutes per game (39.9) and is second in free throws made (105).

So with two top notch players going up against each other, who will have the upper hand?

“They have such different games,” Minnesota coach Rick Adelman said. “You can’t really compare the two of them. Kevin’s game is a lot more of an outside shooter. He’s very skilled and everything. Blake is getting better, he’s just so powerful. He’s getting better at facing the basket and putting it on the floor and attacking the basket.

“I’d like to have them both. That would really help us.”

Point guard presence

The Wolves have benefited from the steady rotation of point guards Luke Ridnour, Ricky Rubio and JJ Barea this season, and for the past four games both Ridnour and Rubio have started alongside each other in the back court with Rubio at the 1 and Ridnour at the 2. It’s been beneficial from a ball movement standpoint, and with Ridnour shooting 50.7 percent from the field this year the team has still gotten scoring production. The Clippers have a similar makeup, and even with Paul potentially out tonight L.A. will likely start Chauncey Billups at the 1 and Randy Foye at the 2. Mo Williams will also be in the mix.

Rubio more than just an assist machine

Wolves Minute Hosted By John Focke

Rubio continues to shine offensively both as a passer and a scorer—he’s got 11 alley-oop assists and 42 3-point field goal assists already this season. But from a defensive standpoint, Rubio is also making his mark early in his NBA career. Through Thursday, Rubio was No. 1 in the league with 14 offensive fouls drawn and second with eight charges drawn. He’s also coming off a six-steal performance against Detroit—Rubio is fourth in that category with 2.29 per contest this year.

A steady dose of offense

Clippers forward Caron Butler continues to put up impressive numbers for the team, scoring 20 points against the New Jersey Nets on Jan. 16, marking the fourth time in the Clippers last five games that he has scored 20 points. Also in his last five games, Butler is averaging 18.6 points, 5.4 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game while also shooting 11-of-29 from beyond the arc.

Another leading force for the Clippers is Billups who scored 21 points and nailed the game-winning 3-point basket to secure a 91-89 win over Dallas on Wednesday. Billups is averaging 16.8 points per game, along with 1.9 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game.

Center DeAndre Jordan will be another “big guy” obstacle the Wolves will have to work with tonight.

“They are just a good team,” Adelman said. “They have good guards. They have big guys that are good. They have really improved their team.”

Injury report

Forward Michael Beasley did not make the road trip to Los Angeles and Utah due to a sprained right foot. Both center Brad Miller and guard Martell Webster have been cleared to practice and made the trip however, it is unclear if either will see minutes on the court this weekend.

If Paul doesn’t play for the Clippers due to his strained left hamstring, it will be his fourth consecutive game sidelined with the injury.

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For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Timberwolves and Mark Remme on Twitter.