Scouting Report: Wolves vs. Spurs
Wolves (18-27) vs Spurs (38-11) — 8:00 PM Target Center
Where to Watch: Fox Sports North, ESPN
Where to Listen: 830 WCCO-AM
View Timberwolves Game Notes
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Minnesota overcame a 19-point deficit Monday night, but their incredible fourth-quarter efforts were not enough as Portland won, 100-98. Can they turn things around tonight against San Antonio? Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. on Fox Sports North, ESPN or 830 WCCO-AM.
The trio of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker has been a San Antonio mainstay for over 10 seasons now. The Spurs that come to Target Center today may look quite different, however, as Duncan (sprained left knee) is questionable and Ginobili (tight left hamstring) is doubtful to play.
Those two aren’t the only reason this team is first in the Western Conference, however. It starts with Parker, whose .534 shooting percentage from the field is his best since 2006. He leads San Antonio’s scoring attack with 20.1 points per game and dishes out a team-leading 7.6 assists per game as well. Tiago Splitter, who has been starting since midseason, is enjoying a breakout year with 10.5 points per game on nearly 60 percent shooting. The Spurs’ deep bench goes all the way to the 11th or 12th man on most nights, led by Gary Neal and DeJuan Blair.
Last Time Out: Jan. 5, 2013
The Wolves dropped two games below .500 with their Jan. 13th loss in San Antonio, a game in which Minnesota handled every run San Antonio made with a run of their own until the beginning of the fourth quarter.
When the Spurs put together an 11-0 first half run, Minnesota cut the lead right back down to three with a stretch of their own. They battled thanks to stingy half-court defense and a 14 offensive rebounds. Eight different times the Spurs had a lead of seven points or more in the first half, and each time the Wolves trimmed it down. Minnesota trailed by five at the half.
The Wolves got 14 points from Nikola Pekovic, 13 points and six assists from Ridnour, 11 points from Dante Cunningham and 10 from Greg Stiemsma, who shot 4-of-6 from the field. Kirilenko led the team with 11 rebounds, including four on the offensive end.
For the Spurs, Parker led all scorers with 20 points on 10-of-15 shooting. When he wanted to get to the basket, he got there efficiently. Tim Duncan chased a triple-double with 12 points, nine assists and seven blocks on the night, and Tiago Splitter added 10 points.
Key Matchup: Tony Parker and Ricky Rubio
Parker is experiencing a bit of a golden year, putting up numbers that are among his best in his 10 seasons of experience. He leads the team with 20.1 points per game, hands out 7.6 assists per game, and is hitting from the free throw line (80 percent) better than ever before. For a team that holds the No. 1 spot in the Western Conference and the best record in the NBA, they need consistency from Parker more than ever—and he is following through. He has put up over 16 points in each of the last 14 contests, and he has passed out more than six assists in each of his last 10.
Dante Cunningham was the star of last game’s fourth quarter, as the forward racked up 17 points in the final frame. But helping fuel that run was Ricky Rubio, who dished out an incredible 10 assists in the same period; he finished with 14, tying a career-high. You could see the passion in Rubio’s body language—he wanted more than anything to earn a win for his club. In that quarter, we saw Ricky excelling in his best area: as an elite facilitator. If he can somehow carry over some of that charisma and execution into tonight’s game, the Wolves will be in a good position.
Injury report presented by TSR Injury Law
The Wolves lost small forward Andrei Kirilenko during Monday’s game due to a strained right quad in the first half. He did not return, and he’s listed as questionable for tonight’s game. Minnesota continues to be without Kevin Love (right hand), Brandon Roy (right knee), Chase Budinger (left knee) and Malcolm Lee (knee, hip).
The Spurs are battling injuries to two of their biggest stars as they enter tonight’s game. Tim Duncan is officially listed as questionable with a sprained left knee, and Manu Ginobili is listed as doubtful with a tight left hamstring.
|Tonight's Probable Starters|
|PG||Ricky Rubio||Tony Parker|
|SG||Luke Ridnour||Danny Green|
|SF||Andrei Kirilenko*||Kawhi Leonard|
|PF||Derrick Williams||Tim Duncan*|
|C||Nikola Pekovic||Tiago Splitter|
*-Questionable for tonight's game