Shootaround Access: Wolves vs. Blazers | Dec. 18, 2013

Shootaround Access: Wolves vs. Blazers | Dec. 18, 2013

Timberwolves vs. Heat | 7:00 PM — Target Center

Where to Watch: Fox Sports North Plus

Where to Listen: 830 WCCO-AM

Not many teams pegged the Portland Trail Blazers as the Western Conference’s best team, but after another buzzer-beater from second-year guard Damian Lillard last night, that’s exactly where the Blazers are at.

“It’s crazy. We’re hoping their luck has run out tonight. But they work very hard, they put themselves in position to win,” Wolves power forward Kevin Love said at Wednesday morning’s shootaround at the Target Center. “And they execute down the stretch. Lillard is a guy who is still growing. He went all those years of college, had a great rookie year last year and he seemingly gets better too. We’ll have some tough matchups tonight, but I think we’re going to bring it.”

The duo of Lillard and post player LaMarcus Aldridge has been deadly for the Blazers and the two are a big reason why they’ve had the success they have had this season. The Wolves will try to take a page of the Portland’s notebook on Wednesday and hope to get back to .500. Right now, the Wolves sit at 12-13.

“They are playing one of the best basketball in the league and they fight all the way through,” Wolves point guard Ricky Rubio said. “That’s what we need to do tonight, we just have to go out there and try to win the game.”

The Wolves dropped a tough game on Sunday night to the Celtics and Love noted that maybe the team shouldn’t be losing games like that, but said the team is still learning. Tonight seems like a good night to make a statement.

“We have games like that (against Boston) that we shouldn’t drop, but this team is still figuring it out,” Love said. “I think our bench is still figuring it out. It was tough the other night with K-Mart out. But it’s a point where we have to be done with the excuses and get over the hump.”

Injury Update

Both Kevin Martin and Dante Cunningham attended shootaround and as of Wednesday afternoon, both players are listed as game-time decisions for the Wolves.

Martin played just 19 minutes in Sunday’s win over Memphis and sat out Monday’s game due to a sore knee. After practice, Martin received treatment. Obviously having the sharpshooter in the lineup benefits the Wolves, especially with the offensive firepower of the Blazers. Martin is averaging 20.6 points per game while shooting 40.8 percent from the 3-point line.

His presence on the court alone opens things up for other players on the Wolves and if he’s unable to go tonight, Minnesota will have to adjust. Look for the Wolves to go with Robbie Hummel again at the 2, while sliding Corey Brewer to the 3.

Cunningham, who suffered an ankle injury in Monday’s loss to the Celtics, played one of his best games of the year up to his injury, scoring 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting in 21 minutes of play.

Despite how painful the injury did look, Cunningham is listed as a game-time decision as well.

“I mean, I’m moving on it right now and it’s feeling pretty good,” Cunningham said. “You know, it’s still a little sore.”

We will likely be getting an update on both players when coach Rick Adelman addresses the media before the game.

Quick Hits

  • Aldridge is having an impressive season and has been hot lately, finishing with 24 or more points and 12 or more rebounds in four of his last five games. Love noted at shootaround that he thinks Aldridge is hitting his prime, but it also helps with guys like Lillard, Nicolas Batum and Wes Matthews are playing very well. All four of those players are averaging 13.9 points or more while playing at least 34 minutes per game.

    “He’s getting into his prime, and really playing great basketball, and I think his teammates are having a lot of confidence him, and his teammates are able to produce and take some of the weight off his shoulders,” Love said. “He’s playing a great brand of basketball, you know what he’s capable of.”

  • Before his game in Boston, Rubio went on a four-game stretch where he combined for 63 points. On Sunday night, though, Rubio shot just 2-of-12 and finished with six points. He said it’s important for him to just keep doing what he’s doing.

    “Boston wasn’t my day, a terrible day, I just have to bounce back from that,” Rubio said. “… It’s one of those days, I don’t want to put too much emphasis on that.”

  • Like most practices, Rubio and Chase Budinger were two of the last two players on the court shooting. Rookie center Gorgui Dieng stuck around after and was sharing some laughs with coaches Terry Porter and Bobby Jackson, along with General Manager Milt Newton.

  • Tonight’s tipoff is set for 7 p.m. on Fox Sports North and WCCO 830-AM.

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