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Timberwolves at Pelicans
Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016 at 8:30 p.m. at Smoothie King Center
Today’s contest will mark the first official clash between the Minnesota Timberwolves and Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans. The team struggled mightily out of the gate, starting the season at a putrid 0-9. The Pels are currently in the midst of a three game win streak after crushing the Atlanta Hawks 112-94 Tuesday night behind strong play from Tim Frazier.
PG: Ricky Rubio #9
SG: Zach LaVine #8
SF: Andrew Wiggins #22
PF: Gorgui Dieng #5
C: Karl-Anthony Towns #32
PG: Tim Frazier #2
SG: E’Twaun Moore #55
SF: Dante Cunningham #33
PF: Anthony Davis #23
C: Omer Asik #3
Nikola Pekovic – out/season (recurring foot pain)
Tyreke Evans – out (knee)
Minnesota and New Orleans met four times last season, splitting the series 2-2. The Pels were able to secure the 1st two wins with a healthy Anthony Davis, who posted scoring outputs of 27 and 35 in the two games he appeared in against the Wolves.
Many of the same trends befalling the Timberwolves this season were beginning to rear during the course of their matchups against the Pelicans. In the first game, Minnesota exploded out of the gate outscoring New Orleans 38-25 after the first quarter before settling at a comfortable nine point lead at the half. The Wolves were able to lead for over 27 minutes of the game, but a catastrophic 3rd quarter, where the Wolves posted an abysmal 15-31 scoring margin, soon led to a disappointing loss.
The two teams second meeting would be much of the same. Despite seven members of the Wolves squad scoring in double figures, a monster effort from the Pelicans bench on behalf of Jrue Holiday and Ryan Anderson led to another New Orleans win.
It was the teams final contest during the last day of the NBA regular season that would finally hint at the true extent of the Timberwolves potential. A decimated Pelicans roster lacking any of its usual star power traveled to Target Center where they were crushed by a young Wolves team firing from all cylinders. Five Minnesota players were able to score 19 points or more, With Towns, Dieng, and Rubio all posting double-doubles. As a team, the Wolves shot .651/.464/.826 and posted an offensive rating of 138.7. New Orleans was able to hold a lead for only 1:46 of the entire game during the opening moments of the 1st quarter before succumbing to Minnesota’s offensive onslaught. The Wolves won 144-109.
Anthony Davis is the leading scorer in the NBA and the Timberwolves have struggled to contain him for the duration of his career. Minnesota’s only success against the Pelicans last season was when Davis sat. Gorgui and Towns will have their hands full trying to contain the big man on the offensive end, and also have to find a way to score around the hoop against a team that currently leads the league in blocks.
The Wolves perimeter game will be the key to winning this one. The Pelicans have struggled to defend the three this season, ranking 29th in 3PA and 28th in makes. Andrew Wiggins started the year on fire from theee point range, but seems to be regressing a bit during these past 2 games, shooting 0-8 from beyond the arc. If Wiggins and Lavine can get their three point shots to fall, the Wolves should be able to leave New Orleans with a win tonight.
TV: Fox Sports North – Dave Benz (play-by- play), Jim Peterson (analyst)
Radio: 830 WCCO-AM – Alan Horton (play-by- play)
(All stats found on NBA.com and basketball-reference.com)