Scouting Report: Wolves vs. Spurs

Mark Remme
Wolves Editor/Writer

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Wolves Minute Hosted By John Focke


Wolves (1-3) vs. Spurs (3-1) 7 PM - Target Center

Where to Watch: FS North

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.

The Timberwolves shook off three straight defeats with a convincing win Sunday, topping the defending champion Dallas Mavericks 99-82.

But with San Antonio coming to town for a 7 p.m. showdown at Target Center tonight, there’s little time to savor the victory. The Wolves will try to put two consecutive wins together against a Spurs squad who leads the Southwest Division with a 3-1 mark.

San Antonio is off and running this season, holding teams 91.5 points against. But all their wins have come at home, and the Spurs’ lone loss was a 105-85 loss at Houston on Thursday. The Wolves, who are 1-2 at home, hope to make keep San Antonio winless away from AT&T Center.

Critical defense late in games

The Timberwolves looked poised in Sunday's fourth quarter, staving off a late Mavericks run and turning a two-point lead into a 17-point rout in minutes. The key? Taking care of business on defense.

Minnesota led the league in field goal percentage allowed in the fourth quarter heading into Sunday at 32.9 percent. Against the Mavs, Minnesota allowed 13 points in the final frame.

"That was the game plan," forward Michael Beasley said. "That's really the year's plan—defense, defense, defense. Let our defense turn into offense."

Scoring threats abound

The Spurs are averaging 99.8 points per game this year and have four players averaging double-figures through four contests. Surprisingly, center Tim Duncan is not part of that group.

Guard Manu Ginobili leads the team with 19.8 points per game, while DeJuan Blair (16.3), Tony Parker (13.8) and Richard Jefferson (11.5) all are putting up double-digits per contest this season. Duncan is scoring nine per contest in 2011-12.

Key matchup: Manu Ginobili vs. Wolves shooting guards

The Wolves have rotated their back court significantly during the season, beginning each contest with Wes Johnson at shooting guard and Luke Ridnour at point guard before starting a continuous rotation.

At any point, JJ Barea or Ricky Rubio could be in at point guard, and Barea and Wayne Ellington have each spent time at shooting guard during the past two games.

Tonight, the challenge will be how Minnesota’s shooting guards stack up against Ginobili, who is leading San Antonio in scoring while adding 3.3 rebounds per game in just 25.8 minutes per game. He’s also leading the Spurs in steals with 1.3 per contest.

Barea, who returned Sunday after sitting out with a hamstring injury, has been Minnesota’s top scorer from the guard position with 10.3 points per game.

Can Minnesota continue its hot 3-point shooting?

The Wolves took advantage of lights out 3-point shooting on Sunday, finishing the game by hitting 9-of-12 in the second half. Kevin Love led the way, tying his career-high with five 3-pointers while scoring 25 points and adding 17 boards. Anthony Tolliver had three 3-pointers, and Ricky Rubio added two in the win.

San Antonio has held its opponents to 30.4 percent 3-point shooting so far this season. Against Utah on Saturday, the Jazz shot 2-for-16 from behind the arc.

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