Scouting Report: Wolves vs. Nuggets
Wolves (26-39) vs. Nuggets (37-28) - 7 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.
There’s a tangible difference for a team heading into the offseason with a win in its final game. The Timberwolves know it, and they’re hoping Thursday will yield a season-ending victory during Fan Appreciation Night at Target Center.
“It’s not very common for teams,” forward Anthony Tolliver said. “There are a lot less teams winning their last game of the year than losing it.”
Having broken their 11-game losing streak with a win over the Pistons on April 19, the Wolves look for a two-for-three finish in the final three games of the year. Minnesota takes on the Nuggets in its season finale tonight at Target Center, with tipoff set for 7 p.m.
The Wolves come off a tough 93-88 loss to the Warriors Sunday at Target Center. After leading by as many as 21 points, the Wolves cooled off in the second half and the Warriors fought back, tying the game with 8:05 left to play. The score remained close for most of the fourth quarter, but a series of plays around the one-minute mark gave Golden State a five-point lead that they would keep. Nikola Pekovic led Minnesota with 19 points and Charles Jenkins led the Warriors with 24 points.
The Nuggets come off a 106-101 win over the Thunder last night in Oklahoma City, keeping them out of the eighth spot in the Western Conference. If the Timberwolves beat the Nuggets tonight and Dallas wins in Atlanta, Denver will be the No. 7 seed and face Oklahoma City again in the first round of playoffs. If the Nuggets win tonight, they would be the No. 6 seed and play the Lakers.
In their win last night, the Nuggets were led by guard Ty Lawson who scored 25 points. Forward Kenneth Faried chipped in 13 points and 10 rebounds.
Last time out
The Timberwolves last faced the Nuggets on April 11 in Denver and lost 113-107. The game wasn't the team's only loss as All-Star Kevin Love went down with a concussion after taking an inadvertent JaVale McGee elbow to the head early in the first quarter.
After Love's exodus, the Wolves hit a dry spell and found themselves down by as many as 24 points. They came back late in the game, tying the score on a Martell Webster 3-pointer with 1:41 left to play, but the Nuggets sank four free throws to secure the win.
With Love out early, Anthony Randolph and Derrick Williams rose to the occasion, chipping in 28 and 27 points respectively. JJ Barea piled up a career-high 15 assists.
Denver saw big scoring from its guards Ty Lawson, who had 24 points, and Arron Afflalo, who had 21 points. Lawson also finished with eight assists and five rebounds, and forward Kenneth Farried grabbed 12 rebounds for the Nuggets.
Key matchup: Barea vs. Lawson
Barea has averaged 11.1 points per game on the season but has risen to the challenges the Timberwolves' injuries have posed. With Ricky Rubio and Luke Ridnour sidelined, Barea has moved to a starting role and has seen a definite uptick in minutes. He played all 48 minutes of Sunday's contest against Golden State and scored a season high 28 points against the Grizzlies on April 17.
Lawson has been building toward strong play all season, increasing his average points per game each month, with 14.5 in January, 15.5 in February, 15.8 in March and 18.8 in April. He scored a season-high 29 points on April 21 in Phoenix as well as dishing out 10 assists in both that game and their April 22 game against Orlando.
The Wolves will be without Love for their final game tonight, who was shut down for the season following his concussion suffered against the Nuggets. The Timberwolves will also be missing guard Ridnour due to a sprained right ankle he suffered on April 2 against the Kings and center Darko Milicic due to a strained hamstring for which he's missed the last 12 games.
Nuggets forward Al Harrington (right knee) returned to action in Denver's game against Oklahoma City last night, scoring 10 points in 23 minutes.
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