Scouting Report: Wolves vs. Nuggets
Wolves (23-26) vs. Nuggets (26-22) - 2:30 PM Target 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 Minnesota Timberwolves are back at Target Center for the first time since March 10, and after a 2-5 road trip culminating with a double-overtime loss to the Thunder, the Wolves would like nothing more than to recharge their batteries with a home win.
They’ll get that opportunity today as they host divisional rival Denver. Tipoff is set for 2:30 p.m.
Minnesota nearly pulled off a win for the ages on Friday in Oklahoma City, battling back from a double-digit deficit to force overtime on a last-second 3-pointer by Kevin Love. The Wolves held a five-point lead with less than 30 seconds left in the first OT, but Oklahoma City showed why they’re the top team in the West by battling back and pulling away in the second overtime and picking up the 149-140 win. The loss dropped Minnesota (23-26) to three games under .500 for the first time since Feb. 13.
Denver has not put together consecutive wins or consecutive losses since winning four straight from Feb. 29-March 5. That’s a stretch of nine straight games in which they’ve followed up a win with a loss, most recently losing to the Utah Jazz 121-102 on Friday. Denver currently holds the eighth and final playoff spot and are 3.5 games ahead of Minnesota in the standings. The Nuggets enter today’s game with an 11-10 record on the road, while the Wolves have a 12-12 record at Target Center.
Last time out
This is the second of four meetings between the Nuggets and Wolves this season, the first coming on Feb. 20 in Denver. The Nuggets pulled away in overtime to earn a 103-101 win at Pepsi Center, led in large part by Al Harrington’s 31 points and nine rebounds off the bench. Harrington struggled at the free-throw line but was nearly perfect from the field down the stretch, hitting from all areas of the court and helping the Nuggets hold on for the victory. Arron Afflalo had 20 points and Ty Lawson had 13 points in 17 minutes before leaving with an injury. Love led the Wolves with 22 points and 13 rebounds, while Michael Beasley added 17, Ricky Rubio had 16 and Luke Ridnour had 12.
Love’s historic night
Wolves forward Kevin Love made Timberwolves history on Friday, scoring a career-high 51 points against the Oklahoma City Thunder. It’s the most single-game points in team history, surpassing Kevin Garnett’s previous mark of 47. He hit a career-high seven 3-pointers in the game, including five in the first quarter, and sent the game into overtime with a last-second 3-pointer in the 4th. He’s averaging 30.9 points per game in March and is still fourth in the NBA in points, second in rebounding and first in minutes per game for the season.
Wolves guard JJ Barea became the first Timberwolves player since Kevin Garnett in 2007 to post a triple-double on Friday when he posted 25 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds against the Thunder. Barea put together a strong performance on the court, picking his spots to drive and shoot while also setting up his teammates throughout the contest. He was 10-of-22 in the game and hit a pair of 3-pointers, and he has put together double-digit assists in each of his last three games. Barea played a season-high 47 minutes on Friday against the Thunder.
Ty Lawson brings that same dual threat of scoring and set-ups for the Nuggets. He has eight point-assist double-doubles this season, including four this month. He nearly picked up a triple-double of his own against the Spurs on March 4, putting together a 22-point, 11-assist, 9-rebound effort. Lawson is shooting 47 percent from the floor this year and is averaging 15.2 points and 6.8 assists per night.
Battle on the boards
The last time these two teams played, Denver out-rebounded Minnesota by a 57-50 margin and snagged 17 offensive rebounds against the Wolves with both Love and center Nikola Pekovic on the court. Forward Kenneth Faried led the way, with five of his 14 boards coming on the offensive end. Faried was all over the court snatching rebounds, particularly in key moments in the second half with the two teams locked in a back-and-forth battle. Offensive rebounding will again be key in this one, and whether or not Pekovic plays will be a big factor in that part of the game. Pekovic did not play in Minnesota’s past two games as he headed back to the Twin Cities early to rest his sore left ankle. He is officially listed as questionable for today’s game.
Along with Pekovic, Wolves forward Michael Beasley has been in and out of the lineup over the past week with a sprained great toe on his left foot. He’s missed three of the past six games with the injury, which he originally suffered March 12 at Phoenix, and is listed as questionable for today’s game. For Denver, guard Rudy Fernandez will miss the remainder of the season after it was announced Thursday he will undergo back surgery. He has missed 12 games this season with a lower back strain. Forward Danilo Gallinari is also listed as out for the Nuggets with a left thumb fracture, and guard Andre Miller is listed as probable against the Wolves with a right shoulder separation.
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