Scouting Report: Wolves at Jazz
Wolves (22-21) vs. Jazz (20-22) - 8 PM EnergySolutions Arena
Where to Watch: NBA TV
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 head into the second game of their seven-game road trip tonight coming off a 127-124 win Monday over the Suns at US Airways Center. Monday's contest was one for the record books, as the Wolves posted season highs in assists (30), 3-pointers made (14) and points scored, and Timberwolves power forward Kevin Love set a new franchise record for most 30-point games in a season (15).
Utah also comes off a trip to US Airways Center, but the Jazz didn’t fare as well as the Wolves, suffering a 120-111 loss to the Suns last night. Jazz center Al Jefferson and forward Paul Millsap each scored 18 points but were no match for Suns center Marcin Gortat with 25 points and forward Channing Frye with 26. Suns guard Jared Dudley added 21 points on the night, while guard Steve Nash had 12 points and 16 assists.
The Jazz’s loss puts them at 11th place in the Western Conference while the Wolves sit in ninth. With Utah only 1.5 games behind Minnesota, however, this game is key as both teams fight for a playoff spot.
Last time out
The Timberwolves chalked up a win against the Jazz on Feb. 22 at Target Center, but it didn't come easily. The Wolves battled back from an 18-point deficit and won on a buzzer-beater from guard Luke Ridnour. Starting off cold shooting 4-for-21 from the field in the first quarter and trailing by 10 points or more the entire second quarter, Minnesota didn't catch fire until the fourth when guard JJ Barea provided a nine-point scoring spark to lead the charge. Barea led the Wolves with 22 points and center Nikola Pekovic added a double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds.
Utah was led by center Al Jefferson with 18 points and 11 boards and forward Paul Millsap who had a game-high 25 points and 9 rebounds.
Key matchup: Post play
But Love and Pekovic have both played big in their previous two games, a loss to New Orleans at home March 10 and their win over the Suns on Monday. Love recorded two 30-point games and Pekovic scored 21 and 24 points for the Wolves, respectively.
Wolves' bench steps up
The Wolves are missing rookie guard Ricky Rubio, who is out for the season with a torn ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament), incurred during the final minutes of their home game against the Lakers on March 9. In the subsequent two games, the Wolves have been finding ways to step up in the playmaker's absence, with starter Luke Ridnour moving from shooting guard to point guard in both and posting a double-double against the Hornets. The Wolves as a collective lacked energy against the Hornets but found it against the Suns. In addition to Love's and Pekovic's impressive performances in Phoenix, the Wolves' bench outscored the Suns reserves 52-35, with rookie Derrick Williams adding 19 points and Michael Beasley and Wayne Ellington adding 15 apiece. It's this kind of team effort that will be required of the Wolves moving forward with Rubio likely sidelined for the season.
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