Scouting Report: Wolves vs. Jazz
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Minnesota Timberwolves (30-50) vs Utah Jazz (42-38) — 7:00 PM Target Center
Where to Watch: My29
Where to Listen: 830 WCCO-AM
View Timberwolves Game Notes
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The Wolves earned a convincing win on Saturday against the Suns; they get a chance tonight to close the home slate on a high note against the visiting Jazz. A win tonight would put Minnesota above .500 for the year at Target Center. Tipoff is set for 7:00 p.m. on 830 WCCO-AM and My29.
In what is somewhat rare in this league, the Wolves will face the Jazz again just three nights after squaring off at Utah. Former Minnesota big man Al Jefferson turned in a huge performance on Friday, tying a career high scoring effort with 40 points and also racking up 13 rebounds and six assists.
Friday’s win continued a huge late-season push by Utah to catch up with No. 8 seed Los Angeles Lakers, as the Jazz have now won eight of their last 10 contests. They finish the season with two road games, first at Minnesota and finally against the Clippers at Staples Center.
Last Time Out: April 12, 2013
The Jazz continued their hot pursuit of the final Western Conference playoff spot as they bested Minnesota with a 107-100 win on Friday night.
The star of the night was Al Jefferson, the former Timberwolves center who logged a colossal 40 points, 13 rebounds and six assists.
“I had the advantage on the block because they were trying to guard me one-on-one,” Jefferson said. “I figured if I kept doing my job on the block I would get my teammates open shots.”
Jefferson, a free agent this summer, scored 29 of his points in the second half. He and Paul Millsap (10 points) helped contribute to a 44-32 scoring advantage in the paint. Wolves post anchor Nikola Pekovic sat out with a calf contusion, and bench center Greg Stiemsma logged 41 minutes in his absence.
Stiemsma had a decent night with 10 points and seven rebounds, both above his season averages, but he doesn’t match up physically with Jefferson. When Jefferson got doubled, guards like Randy Foye (16 points) hit shots from outside.
“You got a big guy that plays inside like that and is such a force,” Foye said, “it makes my job that much easier. He was on a roll tonight, and I just waited for them to double him... when they doubled him, I made them pay."
Key Matchup: Al Jefferson and Greg Stiemsma
Minnesota hopes Pekovic will be ready to go tonight, but coach Adelman didn’t sound so sure on Saturday that he would return. There’s really no reason to rush Pek back into action this late in the year, and that leaves Greg Stiemsma as the starting center again. The Wolves started three forwards against Phoenix, but they simply can’t go that small when someone like Jefferson is on the court.
Adelman has spoken all year about players being forced to play out of position, and Stiemsma certainly qualifies as one of those players. Originally signed as a solid rotation guy who can alter shots around the rim, Stiemsma has been forced to play 40 and 31 minutes, respectively, in his last two games. He’s got tools to be solid, but Jefferson handled him and the rest of Minnesota on Friday night with a career-high scoring night.. Stiemsma will hope for more success tonight.
Injury report presented by TSR Injury Law
The Wolves have been without center Nikola Pekovic for the last two games with a left calf contusion, and he remains questionable tonight against the Jazz. For Utah, center Enes Kanter is out for the season with a shoulder injury, and Kevin Murphy is likely out with an illness.