Scouting Report: Wolves at Kings

Alex Conover
Web Editorial Associate

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Wolves (5-7) at Kings (4-9) — 9 PM Sleep Train Arena - Sacramento
Where to Watch: Fox Sports North
Where to Listen: 830 WCCO-AM

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The Kings and the Wolves are both fighting for position in their respective divisions, and each team will get a chance to start a winning trend when they meet tonight in Sacramento. Tipoff is set for 9 p.m. on Fox Sports North and 830 WCCO-AM.

After dropping a close contest in Utah the night before, the Kings turned around to beat the Jazz at home by 11 on Saturday. The win,which was only their second in eight games, was driven by Tyreke Evans’ best game of the season. The young guard racked up 27 points on 8-of-17 shooting and made all nine free-throw attempts; he also grabbed five rebounds and dished out five assists. DeMarcus Cousins also had an efficient night from the field, shooting 6-for-11 and logging 14 points with nine rebounds.

Golden State’s Klay Thompson netted 24 points and Stephen Curry made five 3-point shots in their 96-85 victory over Minnesota on Saturday night. Nikola Pekovic led the Wolves with 17 points, and teammate Kevin Love got another double-double in the books with 15 points and 15 rebounds. Like several games past, the Wolves were winning at half but gave up traction, most notably a 19-2 run by the Warriors in the fourth quarter. The loss was Minnesota’s fifth straight.

"A lot of it is the big men have to play better defense, and that's mostly me," Love said. "I have to take the blame, and some of the other bigs do, too, because we have to help each other out."

Last Time Out: November 2, 2012

It wasn’t pretty, but the Wolves came out on top in their season opener, defeating the Sacramento Kings 92-80 on Friday at Target Center.

While the Wolves’ starting lineup struggled at times, their bench came in and made an impact on both ends. J.J. Barea shot 6-for-11 with 21 points, and Dante Cunningham led the team in rebounding with nine. Center Greg Stiemsma made his presence felt early with four blocked shots.

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Star Sacramento center DeMarcus Cousins picked up some early fouls and spent much of the second and third quarters on the bench. His frustration was visible, and he was limited to only 11 points and four rebounds. Nikola Pekovic, Minnesota’s center who was assigned to Cousins, struggled as well; he shot 2-for-9 from the field for just nine points.

“Offensively, we have a long ways to go,” coach Rick Adelman said of Minnesota, which finished with a 36 percent shooting rate. “We missed a lot of shots, but we stuck with it in the fourth quarter and held them to 15 points and won the game.”

Key Matchup: Aaron Brooks and Luke Ridnour

Brooks has been starting at point guard since replacing Isaiah Thomas five games ago and has led Sacramento to a 2-3 record—including a 16-point rout of the Los Angeles Lakers. He's averaging 8.0 points per game for the year, a career-low since his rookie season. But Sacramento may not have much of a choice. Former starter Thomas is down in nearly every statistic this year, and the only other option is a streaky Jimmer Fredette. If this team wants to keep winning, they need consistent, veteran play at the point guard position from Brooks.

The same goes for Luke Ridnour, who is also crucial to his team's success. The 10-year veteran guard shot poorly on Saturday, making only 1-of-7 from the field for two points. The balance between the Wolves' front court and back court is uneven, especially as Ridnour starts next to Malcolm Lee, who is currently averaging a 29 percent shooting rate that includes 15 perfect from long range. Love has three straight double-doubles since his comeback, and the presence down low looks a lot different with him and Pekovic back from injury; but Ridnour needs to start hitting shots again and taking some of the load off of the big men.

 

Tonight's Probable Starters
Postition Timberwolves Kings
PG Luke Ridnour Aaron Brooks
SG Malcolm Lee Tyreke Evans
SF Andrei Kirilenko John Salmons
PF Kevin Love Jason Thompson
C Nikola Pekovic DeMarcus Cousins

 


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