The Minnesota Timberwolves finish the 2012-13 season with a 108-95 win over the San Antonio Spurs!
Like I've done the past two weeks, this final gameday recap is a Game Log.
-Pek warmed up before the game, but that calf bruise is still bothering him and he was ruled out for this one. Stiemer getting the start against Duncan.
-TWolves go with Rubio, Ridnour, Kirilenko, Williams & Stiemsma; Spurs counter with Parker, Green, Leonard, Bonner & Duncan.
-TWolves leading early, after two minutes Luke Ridnour & Derrick Williams have taken all their field goal attempts and lead 5-2 with just under 10 minutes to play in the first.
-Ricky drains a triple to give the Wolves an 8-4 lead w/8:30 to play.
-One minute later Ricky nails another three and he's now 2-2 from deep with 6pts and an 11-4 lead, 8:30 to play.
-TWolves getting some good looks and knocking down their shots. The shots they're getting and the points don't seem to be a sustainable offense though, you can't expect Ricky to keep hitting these threes. Have to get some buckets at the rim from Williams, Kirilenko, Stiemsma, etc.
-Spurs managed just 6 points through the first five minutes of action. TWolves with 14.
-Shortly thereafter Gary Neal nails a triple to make it a 5-point ballgame.
-TWolves refusing to give up ground, answering on most every made San Antonio bucket.
-Pop got Neal into this ball game early and he's answered with a couple of made threes.
-Timberwolves hustling on the boards--on both ends of the floor. Getting themselves second and third chance buckets.
-J.J. Barea checks in for Ridnour with just over 4 minutes to play.
-Out of a timeout the Wolves bring in Chase for AK.
-Greg Stiemsma seeing extended minutes in this one and I hate every minute of it. Tim Duncan having little trouble against him in the post. Greg also not hustling to either end of the floor, playing with very little energy.
-Spurs tie it up on a Duncan layup at 24, but Rubio quickly answers with his third triple of the game and the Wolves lead by 3 with just under a minute to play. Rubio now up to 11pts!
-Spurs getting good looks at the rim, but can't get them to fall.
-Quarter ends with Budinger knocking down a triple to give the Wolves a 30-24 lead after the first quarter!
-Gary Neal getting it going in the second quarter as he's now up to 10 on the night after a couple of floaters to start the quarter.
-Chris Johnson, Dante Cunningham, Alexey Shved, J.J. Barea & Chase Budinger starting the second quarter.
-Everybody getting in on the three-point action. Rubio has three; Bud, Shved & Barea each with 1.
-Barea slashes to the rim and hits a righty scoop between four Spurs defenders!
-Wolves up 40-34 w/7:50 to play.
-The Spurs broadcasters are surprised that these Wolves continue to battle in this one and aren't 'rolling over' in an ultimately meaningless game.
-This second unit for the Wolves playing very well. Getting plenty of buckets at the rim and knocking them down.
-It's 46-40 TWolves w/4:40 to play in the half.
-Spurs have now shot 15 free throws (made them all) to the Wolves' 2 (made them both) with 4:00 to play in the half.
-Mickael Gelabale makes a rare first half appearance as he checks in with just under 4 minutes to play in the half for Chase.
-It's starting to unravel for the Wolves now as they've given up a number of transition buckets and three balls to give the Spurs a 46-50 w/3:16 to play.
-Wolves bring in some starters out of a timeout, Ridnour, Stiemsma, Rubio & Williams on the court with Gelabale.
-Derrick gets a takeaway and runs the length of the court, hits a layup, fouled by Bonner and gets the and-one to fall at the line.
-Stiemsma picks up his third foul with another dumb play and Johnson returns, with just over a minute to play in the first half.
-Spurs lead 52-59 with just under one minute to play.
-Gelly nails a triple and cuts the lead back to 4.
-TWolves down 56-61 after two quarters of play.
-Rubio ends the first half with 12pts, 2reb, 1ast, 2stls and 3-5 from deep. He now needs just two more steals to end the season as the NBA's leader in steals per game (beating out Chris Paul).
-Williams also adds 12pts to go along with 2reb, 1ast & 1stl.
-Tony Parker has 15pts, 6ast, 1stl for the Spurs and 9 of his 15 have come from the line (9-9).
-Duncan also with 15pts to go along with 9reb, 1blk and 7 of his 15 have come at the line (7-7).
-Gary Neal has come off the bench with 12pts, 1reb and has hit 2-5 from deep.
-The Wolves shooting 44.7% from the field to San Antonio's 44.2%. Minnesota a surprising 7-16 (43.8%) from deep, while the Spurs go 3-11 (27.3%). A big difference maker has been the free throw differential. Minnesota just 7-9 at the line in the first half, while the Spurs have gone 20-for-20.
-Missed about a minute to start the third quarter--but did make some great jalapeño dip at halftime, well worth it! :)
-TWolves down 60-61 after 1:30 gone in the third.
-Stiemsma finally drills a mid-range jumper as the Wolves take a one-point lead.
-This start to the third (6-0 run) mirrors what the Wolves did early in the first quarter (jumping out to that early lead).
-After just nine minutes play in the first half, Kirilenko back on the court to start the second half. With Gelabale playing I was a bit concerned that something might've happened (injury-wise) but he's all right--Adelman just getting all his guys some quality PT.
-Danny Green with back-to-back buckets to tie it at 65 w/8:50 to play.
-Rubio steps out of bounds on a three-point attempt, than lets out an audible yell that gets caught on the mics.
-Duncan now with a double-double with 17pts & 10reb.
-Stiemer seems to be showing a bit more energy in this second half as he sends Bonner's post shot away and then gathers the board.
-Williams called for a travel. The ref that was standing right next to him didn't make the call (as DWill was under the bucket) it was instead the ref standing at halfcourt...hmmm...
-Spurs have definitely gone cold here to start the second quarter.
-OH MY! OH ME OH MY! Derrick Williams on the fast break hammers down a 360 dunk! Just like his oop attempt vs. the Jazz on Monday this one will be all over the highlight reel tonight! Google this dunk! Do it immediately!
-Wolves up 71-67 w/6:00 to play in the third.
-Neal checks back in out of the timeout, let's see if that hot hand carries over in the second for him.
-With Splitter & Diaw both out, DeJuan Blair seeing plenty of court time. Each time I watch him play I don't understand why he's not a big part of Pop's rotations. Though, I don't see more than five or six Spurs games a season.
-Stiemsma's inconsistent mid-range jumper has been on tonight as he's now knocked down a pair.
-And there's another three ball for Gary Neal (his third of the night) as the Wolves lead down to 1.
-Then Stiemer hammers down a dunk to push it back to a three-point game w/2:49 to play, 77-74.
-Out of a timeout, Derrick Williams triples to make it a 6-point game with just over 2 minutes to play.
-From what the Spurs broadcasters are saying, tim Duncan may be done for the night.
-That Andrei Kirilenko pump fake is a thing of beauty! I honestly can't think of a player who has a better pump fake in the League.
-TWolves end the quarter on a bit of dry-spell offensively, but still lead 80-76 after three quarters.
-TWolves outscore the Spurs 24-15 and allow them 0 free throw attempts after 20 through the first two quarters!
-A goaltending call gives the Wolves their first score of the fourth. Next Wolves possession ends with a charge call against DWill, even though Baynes wasn't set and actually jumped in the air with Williams!
-Barea hits a triple after a Blair hook shot to give the Wolves an 85-78 edge after 1:30 played in the final quarter of the season for Minnesota.
-Blair has all 4 of the Spurs points in the fourth on a couple great post moves. If the Spurs don't want him back next year...I'd take him!
-TWolves get a rare trip to the line tonight, but Shved goes 1 of 2 at the line, MIN still up 86-80 with 9:00 to go.
-Wolves will get another opportunity at the line out of the timeout after Blair fouls Dante on a dunk attempt. Dante hits both at the line to make it an 8-point lead.
-Rubio not out there right now and still needs two more steals to end the year as the steals leader. May not get back out there again tonight if the Wolves second unit (plus D-Will) can put away the Spurs in the next couple minutes.
-With the Spurs playing Blair & Bonner in the post, a Williams-Cunningham lineup works and is actually quite effective right now.
-I'll never understand how Barea gets those layups at the rim over guys who have a whole foot on him! Gotta love it though!
-With the Spurs resting their starters in the fourth and the Wolves bench getting it done here, the Wolves may close this one out for their 31st win of the season. MIN leads 10 w/5:50 to play.
-Still a lot of time to go, but TWolves are definitely playing well in this one, by no means is this one over though!
-Budinger misses a shot, but has a nice heads up play to draw a charge on De Colo to give his team the ball right back, they make it count as Shved knocks down a mid-range jumper off the glass.
-Stiemsma is back on the court here for Williams, five minutes to go.
-Dante has knocked down consecutive mid-range jumpers to get into double figures and the Wolves now up 103-89 w/3:40 to play.
-Then Patty Mills answers with his second three of the night to cut it to an 11-point game.
-Just three minutes of Wolves basketball left this season! I've watched probably 79 of the 82 games this year and I'll still miss it! Is it time for Summer League ball yet?! :)
-Budinger comes through with the drive and makes the bucket to give him 12 points on the night and 105 for the Wolves.
-With 2 minutes to play, the Wolves are up 108-92 and they'll finish this season 31-51, their best record since KG left town.
-The Spurs broadcast shows Pop on the sidelines and being a talented lip reader I can tell you he muttered F---! Great analysis all night long! That's what you can expect from me!
-And Budinger brings the ball up, he'll let the clock run out and the TWolves win 108-85! It doesn't really mean much, but the Wolves end an injury-riddled and disappointing season with one last win and end the year 2-2 vs. the Spurs. They also end that 16-game skid to the Spurs in San Antonio that dated back to the 2003-04 season!
Ricky Rubio got off to a hot start and had 11 of his 12 total points in the first quarter. He finished with 2 steals on the night, but needed 4 to end the year as the NBA's steals leader.
Derrick Williams added 7 of his 21 in the first and another 7 in the third. Add to that, he set a new career-high with 4 assists!
Greg Stiemsma exploded for 10 of his 12 points in the third quarter, he also tied a career-high with 6 made field goals as well as a new career-high with those 5 steals!
Chase Budinger scored 10 of his 15 in the fourth and Dante added 8 of his 10 in the fourth to close out the Spurs and nab a victory in this season finale.
Popovich rested his stars down the stretch, but Tim Duncan did score 12 of his 17 in the first quarter and finished with 17pts, 14reb, 3ast & 1blk in just 27 minutes!!
Tony Parker scored 11 of his 15 in the second quarter and added 8 assists in 27 minutes himself.
Patty Mills played all 9 of his minutes in the fourth quarter and hit those 3 three-pointers to finish with 9 on the night.
A big part of securing this victory in the second half was allowing the Spurs to shoot just 2 free throws in the final two quarters after going 20-for-20 in the first half!
The Timberwolves end the season on a high note, unlike many seasons past. They still head into the offseason with plenty of questions, but entering 2013-14 with Rick Adelman at the helm and a full roster of healthy players is all we can ask for! With the season over and done with, this will be the last Gameday Recap/Preview set until the preseason begins again in October. Until then, we'll have plenty of stories under our "News" section about the Draft, Free Agency and absolutely anything Timberwolves related! As always, I thank you for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
The Minnesota Timberwolves are playing in their season finale tonight! Writing this, I can't believe I've written 81 previews & 81 recaps this season! Last season I did all 66 and the season before I did probably 40-50 recaps & previews. So, like Luke Ridnour playing in all 82 games, we're bringing you all 82 Gamedays! Did you read them all? I don't blame you! :)
The Wolves will be looking for their 31st win of the season against a San Antonio Spurs squad that's made headlines the past few days.
Like Gregg Popovich usually does, he's rested his aging stars down the stretch and it has ultimately cost the Spurs the #1 seed in the Western Conference. Tony Parker has missed 12 of the last 21 games, while Kawhi Leonard has missed three games in April with a sore knee.
That's not the only headlines the Spurs are making. On Friday, the Spurs waived Stephen Jackson. The Spurs front office decided that Jackson's bad attitude was going to be more detrimental heading into the postseason. Some of Jackson's teammates were reportedly upset, but it was ultimately a decision by the top brass in San Antonio.
More headlines? Sure, why not! On Tuesday, the Spurs signed former scoring champion Tracy McGrady. McGrady has had a storied career, but he's struggled to find work the past few years. Two seasons ago, he played for the Pistons on a minimum deal and last season he played for the Hawks on a minimum deal. He couldn't find an NBA job this year and played in China, averaging over 25 points a game.
Soon after the Spurs signed T-Mac the jokes about him never getting out of the first round started up. McGrady is the only scoring champion to never advance out of the first round in the NBA playoffs. If the Spurs were to lose to the Warriors or the Rockets in the first round...Tracy may never hear the end of it.
The 30-51 Timberwolves are just 10-30 on the road, 16-35 vs. the Western Conference and 4-6 in their last ten games. The 58-23 Spurs are 35-5 at home, 33-18 vs. the Western Conference and 4-6 in their last ten games.
The Spurs are locked into the second seed in the West after giving up a lot of ground to the Thunder these last few weeks. The Spurs have lost 6 of their last 9 games. Before this slump, the Spurs had lost just 6 of their previous 33 games!
With Tony Parker, Kawhi Leonard & Tim Duncan missing time, it has been hard for San Antonio. Add to that, Manu Ginobli missing the last nine games with a strained hamstring as well as 22 games total this season to injury. Pop says everyone will play tonight. I'm not sure about Ginobli (hamstring) or Tracy McGrady (recently signed). I've heard conflicting reports about whether or not T-Mac will play in this one--my guess is that he won't.
Must be tough to go through so many injuries to so many key players. I can't imagine what that would be like...oh wait...I can! Kevin Love (hand/knee), Brandon Roy (knees) and Malcolm Lee (knee/hip) will all miss the season finale. Nikola Pekovic (calf) did make the trip, but that doesn't mean he will play. He's still listed as questionable for this one.
The last time these two teams met the Wolves won at home (while the Spurs rested their stars) and Ricky Rubio registered his first NBA career triple double with 21pts, 13reb & 12ast. The Wolves are 1-2 vs. the Spurs this season and will look to even the series tonight. Unfortunately the Wolves have lost 16-straight to the Spurs in San Antonio dating back to January 14, 2004.
Let's take a look at tonight's probable starting lineups...
Obviously, if Nikola Pekovic (16.3P, 8.8R, 0.8B) is able to play, he'll be in the starting lineup. Pop says everyone will play, but I really have no idea what the starting lineup will look like. We could see Cory Joseph at point guard or Matt Bonner at power forward...I'm just not sure.
If the Wolves turn in another performance like they did on Monday vs. the Jazz, you can chalk up the 52nd loss of the season. Adelman said after Monday's game that he was surprised at the team's effort and that they ultimately just kind of 'cashed in'--something this team really hasn't done this season. I attended the season finale last season when the Wolves played the Nuggets at the Target Center. That was a completely different team, but that was a team that was ready to get home to their couches to watch the NBA playoffs. With Ricky Rubio leading the charge as well as guys like Dante Cunningham & Andrei Kirilenko (two players that always seem to have A LOT of effort/energy) pitching in. I don't expect the Wolves to 'roll over and die' in this one.
Tipoff is set for 7pmCT from San Antonio, we'll have the final Gameday recap following the final horn, thank you as always for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
For the first time in fourteen years the Utah Jazz have swept the season series against their division rival Utah Jazz. The TWolves had a chance to play spolier in this one as a Jazz loss, would've eliminated them from the playoff chase.
As has been the case the last week or so, we've done a Game Log, ENJOY!
-No Pekovic again tonight, he'll miss his third-straight game with that quad contusion.
-TWolves going with Rubio, Ridnour, Kirilenko, Williams & Stiemsma as their starters, Jazz go with Mo Williams, Foye, Hayward, Millsap & Jefferson.
-This is Stiemer's 18th start of the season.
-Jazz go to Millsap on their first possession for a brick mid-range jumper.
-Mo Williams was in foul trouble early in that matchup on Friday and he just picked up his first personal just 36 seconds into this one.
-First time Big Al touches the ball, Andrei Kirilenko comes down in the double team, Big Al gets the ball out of the post and finds Randy Foye who drives the lane for an easy bucket.
-Randy Foye hot early, hits his first two field goals, both two-pointers. In that matchup on Friday every one of his makes came from beyond the three-point line.
-TWolves struggling on O early as they haven't scored any since Rubio's two free throws 36 seconds into this one. Jazz lead 2-10 w/8:25 to play.
-TWolves look completely disoriented and disjointed in this one. The Jazz are on a 16-0 run, lead 2-16 w/7:00 to play.
-Derrick finally ends the run with a slash to the bucket and an easy layup, 4-16 w/6:35 to play.
-TWolves battling back now after two straight fast break buckets. TWolves on a 6-0 run, down 8-16 w/4:50 to play.
-Big Al's shot is not there tonight, has bricked three mid-range jumpers thus far.
-Out of a timeout, the Jazz go to Big Al and he brings down into the paint for an easy hook shot over Greg. Next Jazz possession right back to Big Al and the same move, but Stiemer fouls him on the shot.
-Dante checks in for Greg Stiemsma w/3:03 to play in the quarter.
-Williams hits two free throws at the line and the Wolves down just 6, 14-20, 2:40 to play.
-Luke Ridnour, Ricky Rubio & Andrei Kirilenko trying to get the ball moving, but every time it gets to Williams the ball stops as he hangs on to it for extended time, usually to hoist up a contested mid-range jumper.
-J.J. Barea checks into the game with just over a minute to play. If we were in Utah they would've cued the boos.
-The Wolves manage just 18 points in the first quarter, while Jazz go for 26.
-Derrick Williams leads all scorers with 9, Big Al has 8 for the Jazz. Wolves shooting just 33.3% as a team.
-TWolves on a 10-4 run, before a Favors bucket makes it 24-30 w/9:45 to play in this second quarter.
-Derrick Favors picks up his third personal foul, forces Ty Corbin to bring in DeMarre Carroll.
-TWolves down 28-34 w/7:15 to play.
-Dante playing well tonight as he's hit a number of mid-range jumpers and a couple layups--as has been the case the past few games--active on the boards as well.
-J.J. had a good game vs. the Jazz on Friday, but hasn't been able to get it going, missing a couple of jumpers and missed opportunities at the rim. Then he hits two free throws and runs up court for a wide open three, for a 5-0 run of his own. TWolves down 2, 34-36 w/5:00 to play.
-Dante Cunningham was doing well on Big Al, forcing him to work a bit harder, had a block on him from behind. Stiemsma checks back in and takes Jefferson defensively, the Jazz go right to him and Stiemer gives up an easy layup...
-Barea triples again on a fast break opportunity as he finds himself wide open, now has 11pts on 4-6 FG. TWolves were down by 14 at one point, now down just 2, 41-43 w/2:38 to play in the first half.
-Jazz come out of timeout on a 6-0 run to take a eight-point lead to end the first half. Jazz lead 41-48 after two quarters.
-At the half, Big Al leads all scorers with 12 points on 5-10 shooting to go along with 3 boards and 2 blocks. Mo Williams adds 8pts, 4reb, 5ast, 3stls and Randy Foye has 7pts on 3-6 shooting.
-The Wolves are led by Derrick Williams (11pts, 3reb, 1stl) and J.J. Barea (11pts, 3ast).
-Minnesota is shooting 44.4% from the field, 22.2% from deep and 77.8% from the line. The Jazz are shooting 47.6% from the field, 0% from deep (0-6) and 90% from the line.
-Jazz with a +1 advantage on the boards (19-20) and +4 in points in the paint (20-24). The Wolves are leading in fast break points 11-6.
-Jazz continue that run that ended the first half with a 5-0 run to make it 41-53. Ends with Kirilenko banking in a shot in the post to make it a 10-point game.
-TWolves struggles that plagued them early in the first quarter seem to be back with this same unit in the third quarter.
-The Jazz are building that lead back up as it's now a 14-point game: 43-57 w/7:50 to play in the quarter.
-TWolves answer with a 9-0 spurt to get the deficit back to single digits, before Big Al hits a hook shot to make it 52-59 w/4:00 to play.
-TWolves continue to show their resiliency. They've battled all season, there's really no quit in this Wolves team. They get down by double digits multiple times in this game and continue to battle back.
-Kirilenko hits a pair at the line to make ti 58-61 Jazz with 2:20 to play.
-Jazz continue to go with what's working as they get the ball to Jefferson in the paint. He's either hitting the hook shot or getting fouled and making them count at the line. He's now up to 17.
-Now Jazz on a 6-0 run to make it 67-58, before Dante hits a mid-range jumper to make it a 7-point game w/under a minute to play in the quarter.
-Cunningham has picked up fouls on consecutive possessions as he's now up to 4 on the night.
-The buzzer sounds and the Jazz lead by 11 after three, 60-71.
-TWolves need one of their big fourth quarters if they want to play spoiler in this one and finish with a winning record at Target Center this season.
-A 12-point lead for Utah here with 7:25 to play. TWolves not getting stops and unable to execute the O.
-Budinger airballs a three and the Wolves are now 2-17 from deep (those two makes coming from J.J. in transition).
-Rubio checks out as the Wolves are going with Barea, Shved, Budinger, Williams & Cunningham.
-Randy Foye nails the triple and it's now an 18-point deficit, TWolves down 68-86 with just under six minutes to play.
-Be interesting to see if the Wolves continue to battle and cut into this lead like they've done so many times tonight, or if this is the point when they 'pack it in' and call it a night. The Wolves have answered every run the Jazz have gone on in this game. Do they have one more in 'em?
-Mickael Gelabale checks into the game with just under four minutes to play and with the Wolves still down 18, this one is effectively over. At the next dead ball, Chris Johnson takes the floor with three minutes to play.
-The Wolves just didn't have a run to answer the Jazz here in the fourth and they'll fall to 20-21 on the year at home and 30-51 overall.
-TWolves rolling with Shved, Gelabale, Budinger, Cunningham & Johnson to end this one.
-TWolves have 72 points with just over 2:20 to play, their season-low is 75...
-A Dante Cunningham fast break layup gives the Wolves 76 w/1:20 to play.
-Chris Johnson attempts a mega-dunk that would've certainly got the crowd buzzing, but he was fouled and he hits a pair at the line.
-Dante Cunningham steps to the line and hits two free throws to give the Wolves 80 on the night.
-And it's a final, Jazz win 96-80.
The Timberwolves had a season-low 3 offensive rebounds in this one, while holding the Jazz to 3 offensive rebounds of their own (which is also a TWolves opponent season-low). Not a single player finished in double figures on the boards (or assists).
Al Jefferson followed up his 40-point, 13-rebound, 6-assist night with 22 points & 8 rebounds in this one. Mo Williams had a great all around game posting 14pts, 4reb, 7ast & 4stls. And former Wolf Randy Foye had a good night in his old stomping grounds finishing with 14pts, 2reb, 3ast, 2stls. Foye only scored on five threes on Friday night, tonight he hit some mid-range shots as well as a couple layups, in addition to two threes.
Jefferson scored 8 points apiece in both the first & third quarters. Mo had 7 of his 15 in the third quarter and Randy Foye doubled his totals from the first three quarters with another 7 in the fourth quarter alone to finish with those 14.
The TWolves got 9 points from Williams in the first, Barea had all 11 of his points in the second quarter and Dante Cunningham scored 8 of his 12 in that third quarter.
Ricky Rubio didn't have a great ball game and tonight was one of those rare games that he didn't lead the team in assists. The Wolves still had 21 as a team. Barea led with 5; Shved, Rubio & Kirilenko each had 4; and Ridnour added 3.
The Wolves have just one game left this season. 2012-13 comes to an end on Wednesday night in San Antonio. We'll have that final preview & recap as well as news, updates & rumors all summer long. As always, thank you for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
The Minnesota Timberwolves are coming off a win over the Phoenix Suns. With that win, the TWolves are now 20-20 at home. If the Wolves win tonight against the Jazz, they'll finish with a home record above .500 for the first time since 2005-06.
The Timberwolves are looking to play spoiler in this one. The Jazz currently sit one-and-a-half games behind the #8 L.A. Lakers. If the Jazz want to make the playoffs, they'll need to win their last two games (tonight and Wednesday in Memphis) and have the Lakers lose their final game of the season (on Wednesday) vs. the Rockets. The Jazz would make the playoffs because they hold the tiebreaker, by winning the season series over the Lakers. Ultimately, if the Wolves beat the Jazz tonight, they'll effectively eliminate them from the playoffs.
The Jazz will be going for a 5th-straight win over the Wolves in this one and 9th of 11 overall. If the Wolves do want to spoil Utah's plans, they'll need to find a way to slow down Big Al. Jefferson dropped a career-high tying 40 points on Friday vs. the Wolves on 19-27 shooting in that 107-100 Wolves loss. It's unknown if Nikola Pekovic will play tonight or at all again this season. If we have to rely on Greg Stiemsma again, chalk up another 30+ point night for Al.
The Jazz will be looking for their first season series sweep of the Wolves since 1998-99. The Jazz have won the previous three meetings and are averaging 103.3 points per game on 50% shooting in those contests.
However, the Jazz are 12-27 on the road this season. The Wolves are 20-20 at home and have also won 4 of their last 6 games at the Target Center.
Let's take a look at tonight's probable starting lineups...
Mo Williams scored 16 points and hit a number of late free throws to seal the W for the Jazz on Friday night. He may be looking to get more involved offensively early in this one and the Wolves need to chase him off that three-point line and limit his slashing opportunities.
Randy Foye drilled five threes on Friday night and finished 16 points as well. Have to keep him off the three-point line as those threes are usually a back breaker for this Wolves squad that ultimately can't hit threes.
Gordon Hayward was very quiet finishing with just 5 points on Friday. That's 9.3 points below his season average. I'd fully expect him to be a bit more involved, however you've got to think some of that low-scoring night can be chalked up to who he replaced in Utah: Andrei Kirilenko.
Paul Millsap, like the others mentioned deferred to Al Jefferson. Add to that, the early foul trouble he found himself in and he didn't get a whole lot of run. I'd expect him to be a bit more involved especially if Pekovic plays and Millsap is being guarded by Derrick Williams.
Al Jefferson. I REALLY hope Nikola Pekovic plays in this one, otherwise, I'm not sure how you stop Big Al. You could choose to go to a 2-3 zone, but then guys like Mo, Foye & Hayward will just rain threes on you. Pekovic isn't a great low-post defender, but a lot of Al's buckets on Friday came by simply overpowering the much weaker Greg Stiemsma. You know that simply won't happen if Pek's playing.
Nikola Pekovic is a likely gametime decision in this one. He's averaging 21 points on 55.9% in his last seven games--before missing these last two with that quad contusion.
Tipoff for this one is set for 7pmCT, enjoy the game, thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
The Minnesota Timberwolves have now won their 30th game of the season thanks in large part to Ricky Rubio's career-high 24 points.
The Wolves are now 30-50 on the year and 20-20 at home. If they get a win over the Jazz on Monday, they'll finish the season with a winning record at home for the first time since the 2005-06 season.
As I've done the last number of games, tonight's gameday recap is a Game Log. Enjoy!
-No Nikola Pekovic in this one as he’s now missed two consecutive games with a quad contusion. Dante Cunningham getting the start at center—matches up better with Scola at center and Stiemsma can matchup with Jermaine O’Neal when they come off the bench.
-Wes Johnson feeling it early, he’s now 3-3 from the field and has 7 points, with four minutes gone.
-TWolves started strong, but now have had consecutive possessions end in turnovers.
-TWolves down 7, 12-19 w/4:30 to play.
-Ridnour with consecutive misses on consecutive possessions, fortunately the Suns haven't been able to capitalize on those misses.
-Johnson continues to play well as he knocks down a deep jumper, now with 9 points in 9 minutes on 4-5 FG. Wes knocking down his shots, just like he's always done...*sarcasm*
-TWolves staying active and getting open looks, just can't bury the shots. Then they're letting the Suns get out on the break for transition buckets, you let them do that, it's going to be a LONG night.
-TWolves down 20-24 after Budinger steps to the line for two freebies. Wolves rolling with Rubio, Shved, Budinger, Kirilenko & Cunningham against Dragic, Dudley, Johnson, Scola & Tucker.
-TWolves end first quarter, trailing Suns 22-28. Wes end the quarter, leading the Suns with 11 points on 5-6 shooting. Ricky leads the Wolves with his 8 points, 4 assists & 3 steals, also adding 2 rebounds.
-7'2" Hamed Haddadi in to start the second quarter, he'll match up with Stiemsma, Wolves also going with Williams, Budinger, Shved & Barea. Suns have Dragic, Dudley, Johnson & one of the Morris brothers (no I don't know which one).
-Will Haddadi dominate Stiemsma like Al Jefferson did last night?...probably... :)
-Stiemsma gets the charge call against Haddadi & then pokes the ball away from him on
the next possession.
-#11 is Markieff Morris who starts at power forward and his brother Marcus wears #15. So it was Marcus on the floor, earlier.
-TWolves down 31-35 after Markieff Morris steps to the line and hits a 1 of 2, 7:58 to play in the half.
-Adelman continues to shuffle the lineups and gets fresh players continually in. Understandable considering the Wolves are playing in a back-to-back and the fourth game in the last five days, also the second of four games in five nights sets in the last two-and-a-half weeks.
-TWolves continue to move the ball VERY well, but continue to miss wide open shots. Now missed 6-straight field goal attempts. Then, Barea finds himself open for a three that he buries to end that on the next possession, Wolves down 34-38, 5:40 to play.
-Scola heads to the line for a pair after getting hammered in the paint by Stiemsma on a drive to the lane. He hits both and it's now 40-44 Suns with 3:10 to play. Kirilenko, Rubio & Ridnour check in for Budinger, Shved & Barea.
-As we head to a timeout, Markieff Morris & Greg Stiemsma exchanging some words, refs get in between them as we head to commercials. Was because Stiemsma was physically bodying up Dragic. Just a dumb confrontation.
-Rubio with consecutive buckets and gets the and-one for five straight points as the Wolves now down 46-47 w/1:55 to play in the half. Then Dudley nails a three on the other end to push the lead back to 4.
-TWolves getting out on the break now as they execute on two Phoenix turnovers to tie the game at 50. Then Markieff Morris hits a three to push the lead to 3 w/under 30 seconds to go.
-Suns have the ball on the final possession, but Scola misses the mid-range jumper. After two quarters, the Wolves down 50-53.
-Rubio the only Wolf in double digits with 13 to go along with 4 rebounds, 6 assists & 3stls. Kirilenko also w/8pts & J.J./Dante each with 7pts apiece.
-Phoenix with three players in double digits...
-Scola: 12pts, 8reb, 1ast, 2stls, 1blk, but does have 6 turnovers!
-Wes: 11pts, 1reb, 1ast
-Markieff: 10pts, 4reb, 1ast, 2stls
-Goran Dragic has just 4pts on 1-5 FG, but does have a game-high 9 assists!
-The Wolves shooting 42.6% from the field, 37.5% from deep and 77.8% from the line. The Suns are shooting 55.6% from the field, 45.5% from deep and 66.7% from the line. The Suns are also out-rebounding the Wolves 24-15, however the Wolves are staying in this one by forcing the Suns into 14 first half turnovers and getting out on the break for 15 transition points (to PHX's 9).
-Wolves need to do a better job on the boards, continue to force turnovers and start running the Suns off the three-point line as they've gone 5-for-11 in the first half.
-Just 10 seconds into quarter #3 and Wes Johnson picks up his third personal foul.
-TWolves hanging around that down 3-5 mark. Just can't pull even/ahead in this one.
-TWolves finally string together some consecutive buckets to give Minnesota a 60-59 lead with 7:19 to play, forcing Lindsey Hunter into a timeout.
-Neither team can seem to take care of the ball as it's one turnover after another for both squads!
-Shortly after Wolves take that one-point lead, the Suns answer with five straight points and are back to building that lead.
-No back down from the Wolves though, as they answer with a 4-0 run of their own to knot it back up at 64 following a behind the back to D-Williams.
-TWolves continue to force turnovers as the Suns are now up over 20 turnovers in the third quarter, 2:40 to play in the third!
-Wolves lead 70-68 w/2:37 to play as the Suns whistle a timeout.
-Barea & Cunningham into the ballgame for Rubio & Williams for the final 1:45 of this one.
-Cunningham gets involved quick as he hits a running floater through contact to put the Wolves up 4, 74-70.
-Ridnour hits consecutive shots and the Wolves are on an 11-2 run as the quarter winds down.
-Tucker responds with a three-pointer on the other end, now 77-73 w/20 seconds to play.
-The Wolves end the quarter up 4, 77-73.
-Wolves start the final quarter with Barea, Ridnour, Budinger, Cunningham & Stiemsma. Matching up with Dragic, Marshall, Dudley, Marcus Morris & Haddadi.
-Barea heating up now as he hits down consecutive buckets, Wolves lead up to 8, 84-76 with 10:02 to play.
-The Suns average 15.5 turnovers a game, but they're now up to 23 with 10 minutes to go, they may be shooting in the high 50's, but that's because they continue to hand the ball over to the Wolves.
-Looks like Barea's putting together "one of his" fourth quarters as he drives to the rack for a reverse layup, then follows that up with a mid-range jumper. Definitely trying to will the Wolves to this W.
-Rubio checks in for Ridnour and he'll run with Barea, Kirilenko, Stiemsma & Cunningham.
-Jared Dudley doing his best to keep his team in this game, posting up, hitting deep shots and getting to the line. His Suns mates don't seem to be on the same page, however as they just continue to turn the ball over.
-Dudley carrying his team offensively, but the Suns are struggling to find stops on D as the Wolves lead 94-86 w/5:39 to play.
-Suns go on a short little run that cuts the TWolves lead to 94-88, forces Adelman into a timeout w/4:20 to play.
-The Wolves have now been forced into four straight turnovers!
-Ricky staying aggressive and getting to the rim, he gets the foul call and knocks down a pair to make it an 8-point game w/3:50 to play.
-Cunningham very active on the boards as he's getting to a number of those loose balls--those 50-50 balls.
-TWolves lead by 10, 98-88 w/2:26 to play. The Suns will have time for one last push to get back into this one, we'll see what they do out of this timeout...
-Ricky hits a three and he's now up to 22 on the night, one off of tying his season-high.
-This one is over as the Wolves lead 101-91 with under 1:30 to play.
-And it's a final, Wolves win 105-93.
Ricky Rubio finished with a career-high 24 points and attempted a career-high 18 field goals. He also added to that 5 boards, 10 dimes and 5 takeaways en-route to yet another great all-around game.
Without Nikola Pekovic, the Wolves needed others to step up, they had their entire starting lineup finish in double figures as well as J.J. off the bench. The entire starting lineup also finished with at least 2 steals apiece. Derrick Williams set a new career-high with his 4 steals--and did so in just 23 minutes!
The Wolves as a team finished with a season-high 17 steals and forced a season-high 28 turnovers. The Wolves also did a good job of keeping the Suns off the offensive glass as they allowed just five which is ties the second-lowest total for a TWolves opponent this season.
Just two games left this season! It's the Jazz on Monday and the Spurs on Wednesday then it's no Timberwolves basketball till Summer League! Stay tuned for the final two preview & recaps, thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
The Minnesota Timberwolves are returning from their three-game road trip and are riding a three-game losing streak.
If the Wolves are able to escape with a victory tonight and then beat the Jazz on Monday, the Wolves will finish the season 21-20 at the Target Center this year. That would be the Timberwolves' first winning record at home since the 2005-06 season. It would also be the first 20-win home games since the 2006-07 season.
Despite facing the Western Conference's worst team, the Wolves want have it easy in this one. The Wolves are playing their fourth game in five days. This is Minnesota's second set of four games in five nights in the past two-and-a-half weeks. The Suns on the other hand, have been waiting in the Twin Cities for the past two days to play tonight's game.
The Suns have definitely had their struggles this season as well. The first generation of this post-Steve Nash era is not doing so well. They've gone through a coaching change and despite some talented players (Jared Dudley, Goran Dragic, Luis Scola & Marcin Gortat) just couldn't sort it out and are 24-55 this season.
The Suns have lost 16 of their last 19, but they snapped a 10-game losing streak with a 102-91 win over Dallas, it also ended their seven-game road losing streak.
The Wolves have gone 2-1 this season vs. the Suns and this is the last matchup of the season. If the Wolves win tonight, it will be the first season series win over Phoenix since they swept them in 2003-04. Phoenix had won six-straight in Minnesota until this season when the Wolves won 111-107 on Dec. 29th. Pekovic led the way in that one with 28 points & 11 rebounds. Pekovic is averaging 18.4 points and 62.3% FG in his last five meetings with Phoenix. Will he be available tonight, though?...
The Wolves were without Pek last night as he sat out with a left quad contusion. There's been no word yet on whether or not he'll play in this one. If he doesn't expect Greg Stiemsma to get his 18th start of the year. The Wolves will also be without Kevin Love (hand/knee), Brandon Roy (knees) and Malcolm Lee (knee/hip).
The Suns will be without Channing Frye (heart) who should be back next season, Marcin Gortat (foot) who is listed as out indefinitely, but does hope to play at least one more game this season and Michael Beasley (personal). Beasley's wife recently had a baby, though it sounds as though he is expected to be in Minnesota and play in this one.
The Wolves REALLY missed Nikola Pekovic (16.3P, 8.8R, 0.8B) in last night's loss in Utah. Al Jefferson just bullied Stiemsma in the post. Tonight, if Pek isn't able to play, it won't be as big a disadvantage as Stiemer will be matched up with Luis Scola. Scola is a talented big man with an array of post moves. While Big Al is known league-wide for that, the physicality of Jefferson is much greater when compared to Scola.
This will also be former Wolves Michael Beasley & Wesley Johnson's second return to the Twin Cities this season. In a lost season, the Suns have begun to play some of their younger players and that's a big reason that Wes finds himself starting at shooting guard again.
Tipoff for this one is set for 7pmCT from the Target Center, enjoy the game, thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
The Minnesota Timberwolves had a very good chance to play spoiler in this one, but in the end, Al Jefferson, Mo Williams & Randy Foye were just too much for the Pek-less Wolves.
As I've done the past couple recaps, tonight's recap will be a Game Log. Enjoy!
-Former JazzMan Kirilenko gets a nice round of applause from the crowd as he's introduces in the starting lineups.
-No Nikola Pekovic tonight, out with a left quad injury. Stiemsma gets the start (17th of the season). Stiemer aggressive early and draws an early shooting foul, hits both to give the Wolves the first lead of the ball game.
-TWolves got to Stiemer on their second possession as well, has a nice move to the rim, but misses the lefty layup.
-Stiemsma definitely active here as he sends former Wolf Randy Foye's shot in the seats.
-Ridnour's got the mid-range working as he hits a 15-footer, not a huge mismatch tonight against Randy Foye.
-Al Jefferson just toys with Greg in the paint en-route to an easy bunny that rolls in.
-Wolves lead 12-11 with 5:27 to play in the first.
-Stiemsma still doing well in this one. DWill gets beat on a pass to Favors, Stiemer steps in and draws a charge.
-Foye hurting the Wolves early here as he's knocked down a couple of threes in this first quarter.
-Jazz going on a little run, getting some separation on the scoreboard as they lead 16-22 w/2:15 to play on a fast break bucket and-one for Big Al. We head to a timeout and he'll have a freebie when we return. Big Al hits the and-one to give the Jazz a 7-point lead.
-Budinger and Shved check in out of the timeout. Joins DWill, Stiemer & J.J. out there. Utah going all starters except Derrick Favors in place of Millsap. A short while later, Cunningham checks in for DWill.
-Gordon Hayward hits a three-pointer from 27-feet as the Wolves just let him race up the court as time expired. Jazz lead 22-30 after one.
-Jazz shoot 57% in the first, compared to Minnesota's 44%. Jazz also go 3-5 3PT, MIN 0-2.
-TWolves start second quarter with Chris Johnson at center, along with Bud, Dante, Shved & J.J.
-J.J. rolling in the second quarter as he hits a three, drives for an easy floater and then pump fakes Burks into a foul and hits a couple freebies at the line, follows up the next possession with a layup and he's already got 10 in this quarter!!
-J.J. staying aggressive, gets fouled, hits two free throws and now has 18 w/8:50 to play in the first half, Jazz lead 34-36.
-Jazz get a little spurt again to pull away as Adelman calls for time. Jazz lead 43-38, 6:16 to go.
-J.J. finds his favorite target (Johnson) for a beautiful alley-oop as the Jazz are trading buckets back-and-forth in this one.
-Johnson picks up a couple of fouls and Greg Stiemsma returns to play with this second unit, he'll definitely be logging some time tonight.
-Of Minnesota's first 45 points, the starters have scored 8...
-J.J. continues to stay aggressive and he draws another foul and heads to the line for a pair. Hits 1 of 2, now with 19.
-Chase Budinger now heating up as he's hit a couple layups AND a couple three-balls. J.J. & Bud are carrying the Wolves offensively right now.
-TWolves come out of timeout with just under three minutes to play in the half, with their starting lineup, but Dante Cunningham in place of DWill.
-The only way Stiemer doesn't log big minutes is foul trouble. He just picked up his second here with just over two minutes to play, so that hasn't become an issue...yet...
-After a Rubio three-point play, TWolves lead 52-51, then Millsap hits a mid-range to put the Jazz back on top with under a minute to play.
-TWolves end the half leading by one 54-53 after Andrei Kirilenko finishes the quarter with a fast break dunk.
-J.J. & Budinger headline the Wolves first half offense. J.J. ends the half with 19pts (2 from tying his season-high), 3reb, 2ast, 5-7 FG, 2-3 3PT, 7-8 FT in 13 minutes. Budinger with 10pts, 1reb, 1stl, 4-6 FG, 2-3 3PT in 11 minutes.
-The Wolves bench has 35 of the Wolves' 54 points (starters w/19). Wolves shooting 52.8% FG, 36.4% 3PT and 92.3% FT. Jazz 53.8% FG, 57.1% 3PT, 77.8% FT. Wolves with a +4 (19-15) on the boards, have also forced Utah into 7 first half turnovers. Jazz are getting out on the break and making it count with 14 fast break points.
-Have to get some offensive production from guys like Derrick Williams & Andrei Kirilenko in this one. Without Pek, that's 20pts that need to come from elsewhere. Someone in that starting lineup needs to step up. Bench definitely getting it done when they're out there!
-Both teams are getting pretty much whatever they want on offense, whichever team can lock down a bit on D will quickly get some separation out of the half.
-Are we on tap for another third quarter letdown? We've seen it a number of times this season and in most, the first half played out like it just did here...wait and see...
-Millsap picks up an early third foul with 11:15 to go in the third. We'll see if the Wolves go back to Williams on the next possession to try and get him whistled for another quick one.
-Derrick Williams hits a mid-range jumper and he's now got the Wolves' first 4 points. The Wolves have also forced the Jazz in to consecutive turnovers (now with 9 on the night).
-Everyone is getting on the mid-range game. Ridnour hit one and now Stiemer hits one of his own! TWolves lead 65-61 8:25 to play.
-Al Jefferson rolling now, as they continue to go to him, Stiemer unable to even think about stopping him. He's now got 20pts & 6reb.
-Stiemer knocks down another mid-range jumper and he's now up to 8 tonight, is then whistled for his third personal on the other end.
-This Utah crowd have the boo birds out tonight. Booing the Wolves when the go on a scoring run, booing every foul called whistled against the Jazz. Booing for the sake of booing.
-The Minnesota Timberwolves aren't backing down at all whatsoever in this one. It seems as though the Jazz came in thinking, Easy Win against a 29-win basketball team.
-Jazz with another turnover on a Jefferson travel, now up to 12 on the night (5 in the third).
-Mo Williams picks up his fourth foul with 4:08 to play in the third as AK attacks the bucket. He'll stay in the game though.
-Jazz continue to work through Al Jefferson, he's definitely working the post moves. Then AK comes down to double on him, he kicks out to Randy Foye who drills a three-pointer.
-The Wolves may have won the rebounding battle in the first half, but now, Williams & Stiemsma are giving up a lot of second chance opportunities.
-Jazz putting together a little run to as the third is coming to an end. With 1:48 to play the Wolves lead 79-77.
-Stiemsma starting off the game playing well against Jefferson defensively, but now Big Al is just getting whatever he wants. Now up to 30 points in 28 minutes! Could definitely use Pek's physicality down low.
-Minnesota down 81-82 after three quarters.
-If the Wolves want this win, they HAVE to find a way to slow down Al Jefferson. He scored 19 of his 30 points in the third quarter!!
-Chase begins the fourth with a finger roll to give the Wolves a one-point lead.
-The Wolves are beginning to clamp down into the paint which is opening up three-point opportunities as Alec Burks & Randy Foye have both connected from deep in the first two minutes of this final quarter.
-TWolves are also playing in a 2-3 zone with Stiemer roaming both low boxes and the high post at the free throw line. Dante & Chase are playing in the bottom half and NEED to get out on the corner three-point shooters, or the Jazz will just keep finding them and the way Foye has it going tonight...they'll keep hitting them.
-Wolves call a timeout with 9:14 to play, Jazz lead 88-90.
-Foye connects on another triple, now 5-for-7 on the night!
-Cunningham is working on the boards tonight. Had three on one possession, but the Wolves still couldn't get a bucket.
-Adelman calls another timeout after Jefferson gets to the rim for another two points, now with 36 on the night. Jazz lead 97-90 w/5:19 to play.
-Alec Burks just shoves J.J. Barea, gets whistled for the foul. Cunningahm steps in. Next play, J.J. gets elbowed in the face and thrown to the floor by Derrick Favors. Causes a bit of a shoving match with everyone getting involved. The refs review and the Wolves get two free throws and possession of the ball. The Jazz broadcasters are adamant that it was J.J.'s fault and it was good acting on his part. Apparently falling to the floor after your elbowed in the face nominates you for an Oscar.
-Now every time J.J. touches the ball he's booed. J.J. finds Rubio for an open three.
-TWolves down 99-98 w/3:15 to play.
-This is Utah crowd is absolutely ridiculous. I've never heard so many boos on so many plays. A boo every time something doesn't go their way. They showed up expecting their Jazz would blow out the lowly Wolves en-route to getting closer to locking up that 8th seed to get to the playoffs. As much as I hate the Lakers and don't want to see them in the playoffs, I REALLY want this win and Monday's rematch!
-It remains 98-99 as both teams have come up empty on their possessions. 1:15 to play, Wolves ball. Rubio bricks a three ball, still 59.6 to play, Jazz ball as Ty Corbin takes a timeout.
-Out of the timeout, Jazz get the ball to Big Al, nearly lost it on a Rubio steal, but he hits a shot as time expired on the shot clock and he's now tied his career-high with 40 points.
-Adelman calls a timeout and the Wolves down 98-101, 39.3 to play.
-J.J. Barea throws up a contested three that falls short, Greg Stiemsma chases it out of bounds, but throws it out of bounds. Jazz ball.
-Utah gets it up court quickly, before Rubio fouls Mo Williams with 20.5 to play. They had a foul to give, they get it to Mo and he'll head to the line for 2, 19.3 seconds to play. Mo (a 90%+ FT shooter) hits the both and the Jazz lead 98-103.
-Adelman with another timeout, as they'll be looking for a quick three and then a quick foul.
-Rubio gets to the lane for the quick layup, he misses it and the refs call Favors for a goaltend. They then review the play on the monitors and the call stands. Wolves down 100-103, 14.4 seconds to play. Jazz call a timeout to get their free throw shooters back on the court.
-The Jazz broadcasters are having a fit about this goaltend call. These are the same guys who earlier in the broadcast (when they got a call that went Utah's way) that this is a veteran officiating crew out there, so they probably got it right! Just fickle, fickle broadcasters and fickle fans.
-Mo Williams intentionally fouled and he hits both at the line, 100-105. J.J. misses a floater on the other end. Wolves foul Mo Williams again and he hits another 2. Wolves ball with 2.5 to play. Dante chucks up a halfcourt three as time expires, Wolves lose 100-107.
Without Nikola Pekovic, Greg Stiemsma played a career-high 41 minutes. He had a decent all-around game as he finished with 10pts, 7reb, 1ast, 3stls & 2blks. He did well in the early stages matched up against Jefferson, but clearly that didn't last too long, as Big Al matched a career-high with 40 points in this one. A lot of those buckets, Big Al just overpowered Stiemsma--you know that wouldn't have happened against Big Pek.
The Wolves got a big game from J.J. Barea. He scored 13 of his 23 in the second quarter and most definitely got under the skin of the Utah Jazz. Should be an interesting matchup on Monday night. Barea finished with a season-high 23 points and outscored the Utah bench all by himself (23-20).
The Wolves really could've used a better offensive game from Derrick Williams, Andrei Kirilenko or Luke Ridnour. Without Pek and the 20 points he's been bringing each night for the past few weeks, the Wolves needed a guy like DWill to have a 20-10 game...he fell well short of that.
Former Wolves Big Al & Randy Foye had big offensive nights in this one. Jefferson finished with 40 points which ties a career-high. Foye went 5-of-7 from deep and that REALLY hurt the Wolves. Mo Williams also added 16 points as he knocked down some clutch free throws in the final seconds of this one.
The Wolves will be back in action tomorrow night vs. the Phoenix Suns at the Target Center. That's all for now, thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
With just four games left this season, two of those four will be played against the Northwest division rival Utah Jazz. The Wolves will play the Jazz in Utah tonight, they'll play Phoenix on Saturday at the Target Center, followed by the Jazz again on Monday at the Target Center before playing their season finale in San Antonio next Wednesday.
While the Minnesota Timberwolves will be going home for the summer in less than a week, while the Utah Jazz hope they won't be doing the same. Fifteen teams have clinched a playoff spot, while fourteen teams have been officially eliminated from the playoffs. The Jazz and the Lakers are still in a battle for that final spot.
The Jazz currently sit one full game behind the #8 Lakers. If the Jazz were to lose to the Wolves tonight and the Lakers beat the Warriors, then it would only take one more Jazz loss or one more Laker win to eliminate Utah from the playoffs.
The Jazz have just three games left and two of those will be against our Minnesota Timberwolves.
I feel a bit conflicted. I really, really don't like the Lakers and nothing would make me happier than to see Kobe Bryant & Dwight Howard miss the playoffs. At the same time, I don't want the Wolves to lose these games against the Jazz, a team they've struggled with recently.
The Wolves have lost six-straight in Utah and nine of eleven overall. In the most recent meeting on Feb. 13th, the Wolves lost 93-97. Ricky Rubio had 18pts, 9reb & 10ast while Derrick Williams added 24pts and a career-best 16 rebounds.
The Utah Jazz are looking to secure their 30th home win of the season in this game. This will be their last chance of the season as this will be their final game in Utah this season. The Wolves on the other hand, are looking for their 30th win of the season overall.
The Wolves will be without Kevin Love (hand/knee), Brandon Roy (knees) and Malcolm Lee for this one. The Jazz will be without their backup center Enes Kanter who underwent shoulder surgery recently and is out for the season. Alec Burks (ankle) and Marvin Williams (illness) both practiced on Thursday and should be able to play tonight. Jamaal Tinsley (wrist) is uncertain for tonight's game.
Let's take a look at tonight's probable starting lineups...
Paul Millsap has found a lot of success against the Wolves in recent meetings. The task of slowing him down will be left up to Derrick Williams. On Wednesday it was Derrick Williams' job to guard Blake Griffin. Within the first few minutes of action, Blake quickly tallied 10 of the Clippers' 18 points. We'll see if Millsap finds that early success in this one, too.
If the Wolves want a chance in this one, Ricky Rubio finding his shot wouldn't hurt, however the same could be said about Derrick Williams. Getting a 20-10 from Derrick, 20pts from Pek and another game from Rubio like the last time we faced Utah should ensure a victory. Don't count out a big game from Andrei Kirilenko as he makes his second return to Utah as a visitor.
Tipoff is set for 8pmCT, enjoy the game, thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
The Timberwolves have now dropped consecutive games to two-straight Western Conference playoff teams after losing to Golden State on Tuesday and the L.A. Clippers tonight.
I hope you enjoyed last night's recap because tonight's is set up the same way: Game Log. Enjoy!
-Get to listen the Clippers broadcast in this one. Stay tuned for criticism aplenty!
-Chauncey Billups not playing tonight despite practicing yesterday. Means Willie Green stays at starting shooting guard spot with Paul, Butler, Griffin & Jordan as the starters.
-Clippers look very good early on both ends of the floor. Turning away Wolves players at the rim with blocks and hitting their shots as well as the boards.
-Wolves simply getting out-hustled early in this one.
-Rubio picks up two quick fouls within the first 2:30 of this one. Doesn't come out of the game though...will have to keep an eye on that.
-The Clippers start the game on an 8-0 run in the first three minutes of this one, prompting Adelman to call an early timeout. TWolves just looking a step behind on both ends.
-A tip-in for Pek gives the Wolves their first points of the game just before four full minutes elapse in this one.
-Blake Griffin with 8 of LAC's 10 points with 7:50 to play in this one (4/5 FG).
-Clippers moving the ball very well thus far, getting themselves a lot of open looks early.
-Score 6-10, Pek with all 6 of those w/7:00 to play in first quarter.
-Seems to be back on track after 5pts on 2-of-8 shooting last night.
-TWolves set up a great out of bounds play that gives Ridnour a wide open layup AND HE MISSES IT!
-With six and a half minutes gone Pek still has the only points for MIN in this one! LAC leads 7-14.
-Blake Griffin now with 10 of LAC's first 18 points! More than the entire Wolves team combined (7 for Pek & 2 for DWill).
-Pek now with 9 on 3/5 shooting, they're going to start smothering him down there and other Wolves need to start hitting their shots!
-WHOO, former Wolf Ryan Hollins checks in with 3:36 to play in the first quarter. Haha.
-My biggest concern was who as going to start out guarding Blake Griffin. It's Derrick Williams and clearly it's anything but successful! Griffin going off in this first quarter!
-It's 18-20 Clippers after Ridnour hits a corner three w/2:15 to play.
-Clippers with all reserves except Chris Paul who has yet to leave game. Wolves running with all starters except Alexey Shved (for Rubio).
-Chris Paul with 6 assists as this first quarter winds down...as well as 4 points.
-After first quarter it's 20-26 Clippers. Wolves shooting 26.1% from the field, but staying in this one thanks to Nikola Pekovic.
-TWolves start second quarter with Barea, Shved, Budinger, Williams & Stiemsma. Clippers going all reserves: Bledsoe, Crawford, Barnes, Odom & Hollins.
-The Clippers are 26-0 when they keep teams under 42% FG. Wolves under 25% right now...
-TWolves first points come on two made free throws by D-Will with just over 10:00 to play in first half, Clippers lead 22-28.
-Wolves follow those free throws from Williams up with another bucket and a three from Shved to make it 26-28 LAC.
-Clippers call timeout, but keep same reserves they started second quarter with out there.
-Clippers just 1/5 FG in this second quarter.
-With 8:34 to play in quarter, Del Negro brings in Blake Griffin for Ryan Hollins. Within 15 seconds of checking in he nails a turnaround jumper, 6/9 and 12 pts now in just over 10 minutes of play.
-Next Clippers possession they go right back to Blake who is fouled in the post. Hits 1 of 2 and now has 13 on the night. Where is Darko Milicic when you need him?!
-Barea's getting going now, hits a three-pointer on the break, now with 7pts and the Wolves down 33-35 w/6:55 to play in first half.
-Chris Paul checks back in for Bledsoe at 6:52 to play mark. TWolves sticking with same lineup they started quarter with.
-With 5:42 to play the Clippers lead by 7 (thanks to back-to-back buckets from Jamal Crawford) 33-40 as we head to a timeout.
-Out of timeout the Wolves bring in Rubio for Shved, while the Clippers bring in Jordan for Odom.
-TWolves come out of timeout in a 2-1-2 zone (or possibly a 2-3 zone with Greg Sitemsma hedging hard to the free throw line). Works on first defensive possession as they force a Clippers turnover.
-Barea definitely feeling it tonight as he knocks down another transition three to make it 40-42, then CP3 answers with a three of his own to push it back to a five-point deficit.
-TWolves seem to be going man-to-man after misses and to that zone after made baskets.
-Pek getting set to check in, I think they may have waited a bit too long--considering how hot he was in that first quarter. We'll see if he's equally effective in this quarter...
-Clippers get to fast break buckets, both ending with wide open dunks from Griffin to make it 49-42, forces Adelman into another timeout with just under three minutes to play in the first half.
-TWolves go all starters out of timeout and Pekovic hits a turnaround 8-footer to make it 44-49.
-We're almost through the first quarter of play and we haven't seen Dante Cunningham tonight. Derrick Williams isn't tearing it up tonight, so...what gives? It looks like Williams will actually play the entire first half.
-Ricky Rubio drives to the rack for a layup and is rejected and fouled by DeAndre Jordan. The baseline mics clearly pick up Jordan saying "Get the F*** Out of Here" Ricky hits both to make it a five-point game, just over a minute to play in first half.
-Ricky picks up his third foul with 1:01 to play in first half, heads back to the bench, J.J. returns.
-Quarter ends with a J.J. turnover and Chris Paul knocking down a three-pointer. Wolves down by 12 at halftime 46-58.
-TWolves played well through the first two quarters. Had a few lapses late in the second quarter that stretched that lead to double digits in the final few minutes before halftime.
-Blake Griffin killing the Wolves early scoring 17 points (10 in first & 7 in second). Paul also in double digits with 12 points as well as 9 assists & 3 steals!
-Pekovic ends half with 15 points (13 coming in the first). Still not sure why we waited so long to bring him back in this one... Furthermore, why has Derrick Williams played all 24 first half minutes? He's 1/8 from the field, but has hit his free throws to finish with 8 first half points.
-Just checked my Twitter feed and saw that Dante was a late scratch with a sore hamstring. I guess that explains D-Will's minutes... Would rather see some Chris Johnson at the four out there!
-4 of the Wolves' last 7 possessions to end the half ended in a turnover.
-TWolves hits a field goal to begin the Wolves' second half, his first of the night and just the second in last three games!
-Pek hits ANOTHER turnaround jumper from 10-feet out, hits it and gets the foul call!
-Clippers broadcast team talking about Wolves injuries, agrees that they're in the mix for the playoffs if completely healthy.
-Ricky Rubio picks Chris Paul's pocket and gets the wide open layup on the other end, makes it 53-63 Clippers.
-Williams hits a three, the Clippers get hit with an offensive foul and with 8:30 to play in the third quarter the momentum is shifting Minnesota's way. After a Kirilenko layup, Del Negro is forced into a timeout as the Wolves go on an 8-0 run to make it 61-65.
-Clippers answer with four quick points out of the timeout, but TWolves not going away as Kirilenko hits a deep 2, Ridnour hits a free throw thanks to a defensive three second call and hits another deep 2 to make it 66-69 w/6:22 to play.
-Blake Griffin has been whistled for two straight offensive fouls and the Wolves continue to capitalize on LAC's miscues.
-Willie Green hits another three, his second of the quarter and it's back to a six-point game.
-Ridnour hits another bucket and has scored Minnesota's last 5 points.
-Luke has been matched up against Chris Paul for the majority of this one and has surprisingly held his own in this one!
-Wille Green scores another bucket and he now has 12 points. We're letting Willie Green pick us apart in this one. Willie Green!
-Pek with the turnaround again and he's now up to 20 with four minutes to play in third.
-Green hits another three and he now has 15. We can't stop Willie Green? Seriously?!
-Williams scores and now has 15 on the night, still has yet to sit.
-Butler scores a three and the Clippers continue this run as they now lead 72-86 with 1:30 to go in the third.
-Just like the Warriors game last night, the Wolves are letting this one slip away in the third quarter.
-Williams now with a points-rebounds double-double in these extended minutes.
-All five starters for the Clippers in double figures. The Wolves have Pek, Ridnour & Williams in double digits.
-After three it's 88-72 (biggest Clipper lead of the game) as the Wolves turn in another disappointing third quarter.
-Clippers start the fourth with all reserves, while Minnesota has all reserves except Andrei Kirilenko out there. That means Derrick Williams gets his first break of the game after playing the first three quarters: 36 minutes.
-A 15-point J.J. Barea fourth quarter would really be sweet in this one! He shoots a three short to begin his offensive game in the fourth, followed by another deep two miss. Don't see it happening...
-Wolves settling from a lot of three-pointers from Shved, Bud & Barea early in the fourth and none are finding bottom, Clippers lead 74-90 w/8:59 to play.
-Wolves offense looks very stagnant here, a lot of standing around, watching.
-Crawford knocks down a three to make it a 16-point game again and for some reason Blake Griffin is about to check back into the ball game.
-Matt Barnes with the fast break throwdown and then has some choice words for Greg Stiemsma. He was ejected in their last meeting after punching Greg in the throat. He's a thug... :/
-Griffin heads back to bench and won't check in as the Clippers lead 81-100 with 5:30 to play.
-This one is over as the Clippers will sweep the season series vs. the Timberwolves--first time in 20 years (last time was 1992-93).
-The Wolves continue to brick threes and the Clippers continue to get out on the break for VERY easy baskets.
-Alexey Shved gets out on the break dribbles between three defenders and slams down a dunk, then hangs on the rim...Wolves still down 85-104.
-Timeout for Adelman w/3:01 to play after a Bledsoe three makes it 85-107.
-The story in this one will be another second half letdown after a decent first half. The Wolves have scored over 20pts in the first three quarters, but allowed the Clippers to score 26+ in each as well as 32 apiece in quarters two & three.
-Out of timeout Mickael Gelabale & Chris Johnson check in. The Clippers bring in Maalik Wayns & Ronny Turiaf. Do we have to watch these final minutes?
-WHOO! Shved gets it to Gelly for the transition hoop, Wolves down just 20!
-Sarcasm switch in the upright position.
-And that's all she wrote. Clippers win 95-111 and get their franchise record 31st home win in this one.
The box score...
The Timberwolves were simply out-hustled in this one. It was another rough shooting night for Rubio and Williams seemed to join him in that boat.
Nikola Pekovic rebounded from his 5-point outing last night to drop 20 points on the Clippers in just 25 minutes. LAC may have some athletic freaks in the froncourt in Jordan & Griffin, but the physicality battle was, as usual tipped in Pek's favor. Despite Jordan rejecting some of his shots, he stayed aggressive and that was the key.
The Timberwolves allowed Blake Griffin & Chris Paul to pick them apart and then in the third quarter they actually let Willie Green score 11 of his 15 points! Willie Green! When it was all said and done the Clippers finished with seven players in double figures.
For the second night in a row the Wolves sat their starters in the fourth quarter, except for Kirilenko who was only playing because of Dante Cunningham's sore hamstring. Alexey Shved scored 10 of his 12 in the fourth, but by then it was ultimately too late.
Everytime the Wolves pulled themselves back within 2-5 points the Clippers quickly responded with a spurt that put them back up double digits and eventually the TWolves' back simply broke and it was over just a short time into the third quarter.
The Wolves will be back in action on Friday night against a hopeful playoff squad, the Utah Jazz. Stay tuned for the preview of that one, until then, thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
The Minnesota Timberwolves continue their road trip, playing Western Conference playoff squads. After a loss to the Warriors last night, it'll be a matchup with the Clippers at Staples Center tonight.
The Clippers have clinched the Pacific division for the first time in franchise history and today they'll be seeking a franchise-best 31st home victory.
The Clippers are currently the #4 seed in the Western Conference. Because they clinched the division they're automatically guaranteed a Top 4 seed, hence the reason that they sit above the Memphis Grizzlies who they should be a game and a half behind.
The Clippers have beat the Wolves in four straight meetings and will be looking for the season series sweep in this one. If they're able, this will be the Clippers' first series sweep over the Wolves in 20 years (since 1992-1993).
The Clippers are heading to the playoffs in a second consecutive season--this is the first time since 1992 & 1993 that they've accomplished that feat.
The Wolves on the other hand, are just hoping to win a 30th game this season. They are lotto-bound yet again as they'll miss the playoffs for a ninth consecutive season.
The Clippers have done very well against a Kevin Love-less Timberwolves team and will look to continue that dominance tonight. If the Wolves want a win in this one they'll need a much better effort than in Tuesday's game in Golden State. The Wolves were killed by the Warriors' deep shooting. Yesterday it was three-point shooting, tonight it will be containing Griffin and finding a way to slow down CP3.
The Wolves will be without Kevin Love who is undergoing season-ending arthroscopic knee surgery as well as Brandon Roy (knees) and Malcolm Lee (knee/hip). Roy has said he hopes to play again at least once this season, perhaps one of Minnesota's final two home games. He also stated that he has no plans to retire and isn't sure what his future in Minnesota will be. Nonetheless, he won't be a Timberwolf come 2013-14.
The Clippers are almost completely healthy and they could get that way tonight. Chauncey Billups has missed five straight games with a groin injury, but hopes to return tonight after practicing on Tuesday.
Let's take a look at tonight's probable starting lineups...
Should be a good battle of the point guards and I know I'm not the only one who will be keeping an eye on Ricky's & Chris' steal totals in this one. After Ricky's one steal last night, Paul leads the NBA with 2.43 and Ricky's second at 2.40.
The biggest concern will be who is guarding Blake Griffin. Unfortunately it'll probably be Derrick Williams and that could spell trouble. I'm really hoping to see Andrei Kirilenko matched up against him instead and maybe Williams vs. Butler.
Tipoff is another late start (9:30pmCT), enjoy the game, thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!