Scouting Report: Wolves at Magic
Wolves (13-15) at Magic (17-11) - 6 PM Amway 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.
The Timberwolves enter tonight’s road matchup with Orlando on its first three-game losing streak since opening up the season 0-3. In order to avoid their first four-game losing skid of 2011-12, the Wolves will need to overcome one facet of their game that has been prominent in their past two defeats.
The Wolves turned the ball over 28 times against the Mavericks on Friday and 23 more times against the Knicks on Saturday—losing both by a combined nine points. When Orlando and Minnesota meet for their 6 p.m. tipoff tonight, whether or not the Timberwolves take care of the basketball will likely be a major factor in the final results.
Coach Rick Adelman said he’s not sure where this recent stretch of turnover-prone basketball is coming from—it’s something the Timberwolves did a good job of containing during the past four weeks. Against a Magic team that is allowing 91.6 points against per night, which is fifth in the league, each possession will be meaningful for the Timberwolves tonight.
If Minnesota breaks its current losing streak, it will also halt a six-game losing streak to Orlando. The last time the Timberwolves beat the Magic was a 102-101 victory on April 4, 2008.
Key matchup: Elite rebounders
Two of the NBA’s elite rebounders will be on the floor tonight in Minnesota’s Kevin Love and Orlando’s Dwight Howard. Howard currently leads the league with 15.5 rebounds per game, followed by Love’s 13.7 boards per contest. In the past six seasons, the two are the league’s only rebounding champions—Love broke Howard’s streak of five straight seasons leading the NBA by winning the rebounding title last year. But Love statistically holds the advantage in several other key categories. He’s fourth in the league with 25.6 points per game (Howard is 12th at 20.6 PPG), leads the league in double-doubles (24 to Howard’s 22) despite playing in two fewer games and brings an outside shooting presence that stretches the floor.
Another bruiser in the paint
While Love and Howard garner the most attention for their respective clubs, Wolves center Nikola Pekovic could factor into tonight’s matchup on the boards just as prominently. Pekovic secured his fifth double-double in the past 10 games on Saturday against New York, scoring 21 points and adding 13 rebounds in the loss. Each night he’s showing his physical presence on the glass, particularly on the offensive end. Of his 118 rebounds this year, 64 are offensive rebounds. But more and more he’s showing his agile side, moving around the paint and finding open seams to the basket to complement his post-up game. Pekovic is shooting 63 percent this season and has three games where he’s scored 20 or more points.
Magic point guard Jameer Nelson’s numbers have dropped this season. His 8.8 points per night are the lowest since his rookie season in 2004-05, and his 5.2 assists per game are the lowest he’s produced since 2006-07. In recent games, however, Nelson has picked up the pace. After missing five games with a concussion, Nelson returned on Feb. 6 and posted his lone double-double of the season (15 points, 12 assists) against the Clippers. In his four games since returning, he’s scored in double figures three times and is averaging 33.8 minutes per night.
Wolves center Darko Milicic remains questionable for tonight’s matchup against Orlando. Milicic suffered a sprained right ankle during practice on Feb. 6 and has missed the past four games. Rookie guard Malcolm Lee spent the past week on a rehab assignment with the Sioux Falls Skyforce of the D-League. Lee averaged 9.7 points and 6.0 assists per game in three starts for the Skyforce, and he’s expected to rejoin the team this week.
You can become a part of the Wolves Radio Network by Howling at the Wolves during halftime! Just tweet questions to @WolvesRadio or @JWFocke and Studio Host John Focke and Coach Steve Brown will answer them on 830 WCCO and the Wolves Radio Network.
For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Timberwolves and Mark Remme on Twitter.