Scouting Report: Wolves vs. Knicks

Wolves (13-14) vs. Knicks (12-15) - 7 PM Target Center
Where to Watch: No Local/League Pass
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.

Coming off back-to-back losses, the Minnesota Timberwolves are in need of a spark to get themselves back to the .500 mark. But in order to get there, they’ll need to go through what is becoming a fast-growing NBA sensation in the making.

Minnesota will host the New York Knicks tonight at Target Center, and what they’ll encounter at their 7 p.m. tipoff is the sudden emergence of Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin. Lin, an undrafted player who was released by the Warriors before the season and was in the D-League in January, has averaged 39 minutes, 28.5 points and 8.0 assists over New York’s past four games—all Knicks wins. He spent Friday night dismantling the Lakers, scoring 38 points in a 92-85 win.

The Wolves battled their own miscues in Friday’s 104-97 loss to Dallas, turning the ball over 27 times in the loss. Coach Rick Adelman said the team lost focus during the game and needs to put a higher premium on taking care of the basketball.

All-Star efforts

Kevin Love, who was selected to his second straight All-Star Game on Thursday, once again led Minnesota Friday with 32 points, including 14-for-14 from the free-throw line, and secured 12 rebounds on the night. Love was praised by Dallas coach Rick Carlisle prior to Friday’s game, as Carlisle called him the best he’s ever seen at generating extra offensive possessions for a player who is also just as potent from behind the 3-point line. Love proved it again Friday, pouring in 30 points for the eighth time this season. Tonight he’ll face a team he had success against a year ago. Love averaged 32.0 points per game in two contests against the Knicks last season, including his infamous 31-point, 31-rebound game on Nov. 12, 2010. It was the first 30/30 performance in the NBA since Moses Malone did it in 1982.

Key matchup: Ricky Rubio vs. Jeremy Lin

All eyes will be on two of the biggest point guard stories on the league tonight when Wolves rookie Ricky Rubio and Lin share the floor. Rubio has dazzled this year with his keen ability to not only make flashy passes and give his teammates open looks at the basket, but also at the defensive end. He’s currently fifth in the league with 8.7 assists per game and tied for first with 2.44 steals per game. He also entered Friday’s game against Dallas tied with Clippers guard Chris Paul for first in the NBA with 19 alley-oop assists. Lin’s story continues to gain attention from national media outlets for his swift emergence as a game-changer. He shot 13-of-23 against the Lakers on Friday against the Lakers at Madison Square Garden while adding seven assists and four rebounds—helping the Knicks snap a nine-game losing streak to Los Angeles.

Home court presence

One thing the Timberwolves have tried to emphasize this season is they need to begin taking advantage of their home court. The Wolves have benefited from big crowds and buzzing energy at Target Center this year, but on the floor Minnesota is 7-9 compared to owning a 6-5 road mark. Wolves guard JJ Barea said it’s something the team needs to begin capitalizing on.

“We need to do a better job here at home. We have good fans—we’re supposed to win more games,” Barea said. “We’re doing a good job on the road, but we need to take care of our home a little better.”

The Knicks come into tonight’s tilt with a 5-8 road mark, but they’re currently on a hot streak. New York had lost 11 of 13 games before this current four-game winning streak.

Back on track

Wolves forward Michael Beasley was the team’s most efficient shooter on Friday, finishing with 20 points on 8-of-11 shooting. He finished 4-of-5 from 3-point range, including a pair of third quarter 3-pointers in the span of a minute that helped Minnesota trim its once 17-point deficit down to three early in the fourth. Beasley is averaging 13.7 points per game this season.

You can become a part of the Wolves Radio Network by Howling at the Wolves during halftime! Just tweet questions to @WolvesRadio or @JWFocke and Studio Host John Focke and Coach Steve Brown will answer them on 830 WCCO and the Wolves Radio Network.

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