Scouting Report: Wolves at Nuggets

by Mark Remme
Web Editor

Alex Conover
Web Editorial Associate

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Wolves (21-37) at Nuggets (41-22) — 8:00 PM Pepsi Center
Where to Watch: My29
Where to Listen: 830 WCCO-AM

View Timberwolves Game Notes

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Fresh off a rejuvenating win against the Wizards, the Minnesota Timberwolves will take a one-game road trip out west to face divisional rival Denver. Tipoff is set for 7 PM on Fox Sports North and 830 WCCO-AM.

Denver Breakdown

The Nuggets are full of players that love to run the break and get quick shots. They rank second in pace, second in total assists and fourth in field goal percentage, and that all adds up to winning games. Their home court is sacred ground, as they are tied with the Heat for the best home record (27-3) in the league.

Ty Lawson leads the Nuggets in scoring (16.8 PPG) and assists (7.2 APG). Right behind him in scoring is Danilo Gallinari (16.7 PPG), a wing who uses his height to get outside shots off at a high rate. Veteran high-riser Andre Iguodala averages 13.1 PPG, and energy forward Kenneth Faried (9.6 RPG) is averaging nearly a double-double with the way he crashes the boards. Their rotation at center switches off between starter Kosta Koufos and super-athletic big man JaVale McGee.

Last Time Out: January 3, 2013

Until Jan. 3, the Nuggets had only lost once at home all season. That was until Minnesota came in and earned a rare visitor win in the Pepsi Center, 101-97.

Star forward Kevin Love left game action with a hand injury—one that medical staffers would later deem necessary for operation—but J.J. Barea scored 12 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter, closing out strong.

Denver was just two days removed from snapping a 17-game win streak for the Clippers, but they came out flat against Minnesota.

“"It wasn't our defense,” coach George Karl said. “It was our lackadaisical effort, our urgency, like this game doesn't mean as much as the Clippers game."

Minnesota’s Luke Ridnour helped capture the lead permanently with a 3-pointer around the 2:45 mark. Before leaving in the third quarter with his injury, Love tallied an impressive 12 points and 17 rebounds. Ty Lawson and Kosta Koufos each had 16 points for the Nuggets.

Key Matchup: JaVale McGee and Chris Johnson

McGee’s playing style is almost as unique as his personality. Never mind for a second that he calls himself “Pierre McGee” on Twitter among other puzzling antics; McGee is a legitimate seven-footer with world-class athleticism. His wingspan is the best in the league (7 ft., 6.5 in.) and he uses it to block shots and finish long-distance alley-oops. He and Kosta Koufos share time at center, and he often comes in to take advantage of less athletic matchups.

If there’s anyone in the league that resembles McGee’s physical abilities, it might just be Chris Johnson. Thrust into playing time with the absence of Nikola Pekovic, Johnson works with Greg Stiemsma when coach Rick Adelman wants height. Power forward Kenneth Faried isn’t very tall and will be guarded by Derrick Williams or Dante Cunningham, but Koufos and McGee are both seven feet tall and can run the floor.

“You just want to stay in front of the guys, that’s the name of the game,” Johnson said. “Stay between them and the basket and try to make it difficult. McGee is crazy athletic. I haven’t seen anything like that, so that will be different.”

Injury report presented by TSR Injury Law

The Wolves travel to Denver tonight again playing without their entire starting front court. Center Nikola Pekovic is out with an abdominal strain, Andrei Kirilenko is out with a strained left calf and Kevin Love is still out with the broken right hand he suffered the last time the Wolves came through the Pepsi Center. On a bright note, Love was shooting jumpers at the LifeTime Fitness Training Center yesterday and looked good in his workout. The Nuggets do not have any injuries on the injury report.


Tonight's Probable Starters
Position Timberwolves Nuggets
PG Ricky Rubio Ty Lawson
SG Luke Ridnour Andrei Iguodala
SF Mickael Gelabale Danilo Gallinari
PF Derrick Williams Kenneth Faried
C Greg Stiemsma Kosta Koufos


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