Scouting Report: Wolves at Bulls

Alex Conover
Web Editorial Associate

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Wolves (4-1) at Bulls (3-2) — 7:00 P.M., United Center
Where to Watch: My 29, WGN America
Where to Listen: 830 WCCO-AM


Only a day removed from an electrifying buzzer-beater finish, the 4-1 Timberwolves travel to Chicago to play the Bulls in the storied United Center. Minnesota looks to build off its fast start, as the franchise is three games over .500 for the first time since the 2006-07 season.

Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. on My29 and 830 WCCO-AM.

Chicago lost its last contest, falling to Oklahoma City 97-91. Kevin Durant, the reigning NBA scoring champion, scored 10 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter to clinch the victory. Luol Deng led the Bulls with 27 points, Richard Hamilton added 20 points and eight rebounds and center Joakim Noah recorded nine points, 13 rebounds and six assists.

Chase Budinger sent Target Center into a frenzy with his game-winning lay-up moments after Indiana’s George Hill tied the game up with an off-balance 3-pointer. But Budinger’s basket [assisted by Andrei Kirilenko] gave the Timberwolves the final advantage and its first buzzer-beating victory of the season. They had three last year: Luke Ridnour’s floater against Utah, Kevin Love’s performance against Philadelphia and Love’s unforgettable 3-pointer against the Clippers in January. The Wolves were sparked by Alexey Shved [11 points, seven assists] and Nikola Pekovic [13 points, eight rebounds].

Last Time Out: January 10, 2012

Much like earlier games in the season against Oklahoma City and Miami, Minnesota played a contender close for most of their contest only to falter late when Chicago won 111-100 on January 10.

The Bulls built a 24-point lead midway through the second quarter only to watch the Wolves—true to form early last season—make a fierce comeback and cut the Chicago lead to five points with two minutes remaining. But the Bulls escaped Target Center with a win in their lone matchup with the Wolves last season due in part to a 31-point performance from the Bulls’ star guard Derrick Rose. Luol Deng added 21 points and 11 rebounds along with Kyle Korver dropping 13 points off the bench.

Ricky Rubio [who was still coming off the bench] had 13 points and 12 assists, making a further case for a starting spot. Fellow guard Luke Ridnour led Minnesota’s scoring with 22 points. Kevin Love tallied 20 points and 13 rebounds, but struggled from the field making only 5 of 18 shots. Minnesota was outrebounded 47-30 by Chicago, which improved to 9-2 on the season after the win.

Key Matchup: Carlos Boozer and Derrick Williams

Carlos Boozer, a 10-year NBA veteran, has shined in three of his first five games in 2012-2013, putting up point totals of 18, 19 and 12 against Sacramento, Cleveland and Orlando, respectively. He did struggle against New Orleans [1-for-8 FG, four points], but if he comes out firing like he did three times already, he will be a handful for the still raw Derrick Williams.

Williams is no slouch on the offensive end, either. He dropped a cool 15 points on Indiana on Friday night and scored 14 in the game prior against Orlando. He shot over 50 percent in both contests, and the young forward is showing more aptitude shooting the ball from both mid-range and long distance. And Williams said prior to Friday’s game against Indiana that over his past four games he’s really focused on adding to his defensive game. Will the savvy Boozer get the best of a young post? Or will Williams use his elite athleticism to work around Boozer’s technique?

Injury Report The Wolves will be without JJ Barea on this road trip to Chicago and Dallas due to a left mid-foot sprain suffered on Wednesday late in their game against the Magic. Last night, the Wolves adjusted by putting in the combination of Malcolm Lee and Alexey Shved in the game together, allowing Shved to handle the ball while complementing the rookie with Lee’s defense in the back court. Shooting guard Brandon Roy’s status is still uncertain. He missed the second half of last night’s game with right knee soreness but is expected to make the trip.

The Bulls, like the Wolves with Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love, are missing their star—former NBA MVP Derrick Rose. Rose suffered a torn ACL in his left knee during the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Philadelphia 76ers last season. Kirk Hinrich has filled in with 6.8 points and 5.4 assists per game in his absence this season.

 

Tonight's Projected Starters
PositionTimberwolvesBulls
PGLuke RidnourKirk Hinrich
SGBrandon RoyRichard Hamilton
SFAndrei KirilenkoLuol Deng
PFDerrick WilliamsCarlos Boozer
CNikola PekovicJoakim Noah

 


For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Timberwolves and Mark Remme on Twitter, and join the conversation at WolvesNation.com .