Scouting Report: Wolves at Nets

Wolves (10-12) at Nets (8-15) - 6:30 PM Prudential Center
Where to Watch: No local/League Pass
Where to Listen: 830 AM WCCO

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The Minnesota Timberwolves head east tonight to take on the New Jersey Nets and will look to bounce back from a 109-99 loss to the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday at Target Center. They’ll be taking on a Nets team who also came up short on the road against the Pacers on Tuesday. Tonight’s game at Prudential Center is set to begin at 6:30 p.m. CT.

The Nets are currently 3-6 at home this season, but coming off a 99-96 win over Detroit at Prudential Center on Wednesday, New Jersey looks to put together its first back-to-back home wins of the season. The Nets are slowly coming into their own: After starting the season 2-9 they are winners of six of their past 12 games.

By the numbers

Minnesota is 10-5 in its past 15 meetings against New Jersey, winning four in a row before the Nets’ last-second victory on Apr. 5, 2011. In Minnesota’s last trip to New Jersey on Apr. 5, Deron Williams put up 18 points, a career-high 21 assists and sunk the game-winning jumper with 1.7 seconds left to steal the 107-105 victory.

However, earlier that season Minnesota clinched a 103-88 win (Jan. 1) at Target Center – a game that saw Kevin Love score 23 points and the Wolves limit the Nets to just 33 second-half points. Tonight, Minnesota will battle for its third-straight road game win for the first time in more than two years.

What to watch for: Williams, Humphries lead the way

New Jersey guard Deron Williams continues to showcase his strengths within the league and value to the Nets, averaging 20.5 points, 8.5 assists and 3.50 rebounds per game.

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Against Detroit, New Jersey had just eight players dressed to play. They even signed Keith Bogans, who has not played since the 2011 playoffs for Chicago, as an extra set of hands. And despite the short bench, Williams led his team to a 99-96 home win with 26 points and nine assists. Minnesota will need to keep its focus on moving forward, avoid any talk of the Nets’ long list of injured players and find a way to contain New Jersey’s leading men.

“They’re banged up,” Minnesota coach Rick Adelman said. “They’ve played really well the last couple games, and it’s going to be a tough game. They’ve lost some starters, but Williams is playing really well. He’s one of the better players in the league, and everything revolves around him.”

Along with Williams, forward Kris Humphries continues to put points on the board, scoring 18 points and tallying eight rebounds against Detroit. Guard Jordan Farmer and Shawne Williams added 15 and 11 points respectively. Rookie forward Jordan Williams contributed nine points and had nine rebounds, while forward Shelden Williams secured 11 rebounds and nine points.

Humphries leads the Nets in rebounds, averaging 10.5 per game, and will look to continue his dominance at the boards against Minnesota All-Star candidate Kevin Love, who is averaging 13.6 rebounds per game and 25.3 points per game.

The Rubio factor

Wolves rookie Ricky Rubio continues to shine this season. His 15 alley-oop assists are second in the league, and he and Deron Williams share the league lead in point-assist double-doubles with nine. He’s first among rookies in assists per game (8.7) and minutes per game (34.9) and second in steals per contest (2.14).

The Wolves inserted Rubio into the starting lineup 12 games ago and the team is 7-5 in that span. He was named Western Conference Rookie of the Month for January on Wednesday, something Adelman said is well deserved.

“He’s had the biggest impact of any rookie in the west on any team,” Adelman said. “You just look at what he’s done so far. He’s consistently come out game in and game out and given us something every game.”

Injury report

Wolves’ center Darko Milicic returned to Minnesota’s lineup Wednesday after missing the last three games due to an illness but did not practice on Thursday due to a sore thigh suffered against the Pacers.

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