Nuggets at Timberwolves preview: Still no Rubio, plenty of Love

Greg Smith-US PRESSWIRE

The Nuggets are back in action tonight for the second of a back-to-back versus the Timberwolves at the Target Center in Minneapolis. Denver came back from 17 points down against the Pistons last night and they'll need another gutty performance tonight to pull out a win.

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2012/2013 NBA Regular Season: Game 23
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vs
Minnesota Timberwolves (1990 - 1996)
11-11 (6-10 on road)

9-9 (5-3 at home)
December 12, 2012, 6:00 PM (MT)
Target Center - Minneapolis, MN
TV Altitude / 950 AM / 104.3 FM The Fan
Probable Starters
Ty Lawson PG Luke Ridnour
Andre Iguodala SG Malcolm Lee
Danilo Gallinari SF Andrei Kirilenko
Kenneth Faried PF Kevin Love
Kosta Koufos C Nikola Pekovic
Notes
Denver Stiffs Blogs Canis Hoopus
Chandler, Stone are out Injuries Chase Budinger, Ricky Rubio, & Brandon Roy are all out.
5-5 record since last meeting Stat 4-4 record since last meeting

When these two teams played back on Nov. 21st, the game was a tale of two halves. In the first half back in November the Wolves took a 58-44 lead into the locker room as the Nuggets sputtered out of the gate and only scored 15 points in the first quarter. But the second half was a different story.

The Nuggets out-scored the Wolves in the third and fourth quarters 57-36 thanks to a 15 point third quarter by the Wolves. Ty Lawson and Company went on to win the game 101-94 and Denver played spoilers for the returns of Love, Nikola Pekovic, and J.J. Barea.

The Timberwolves will again be without star point guard Ricky Rubio:

But Luke Ridnour is more than capable of leading Minny. Ridnour scored just 8 points against the Nuggets in their first meeting, which is off his 11.5 ppg mark. But he was able to tally 6 assists, a couple above his 4.6 apg mark. The three returning stars for the Timberwolves played a huge role for the team in the first match-up. We can all remember the 34 points and 14 rebounds (5 offensive) Love put up, but the Wolves also got 10 points and 7 rebounds from Pek and 12 points from Barea.

Minnesota will be looking for revenge this evening. Love is averaging 21.2 points and 14.2 rebounds since returning to action. In the Wolves' last game, on Dec. 7th, he put up 36 points and 13 rebounds in a win over the Cavaliers. Of bigger concern for the Nuggets is the fact that Love is getting to the foul line at an alarming rate. In his nine games this season he has five games with 12+ foul attempts and went to the line for 18 attempts vs. the Cavaliers.

The Nuggets will also need to pay special attention to Andrei Kirilenko. Like the Nuggets, the Wolves start a very big lineup as their small forwards could easily slide down and play the power position. Kirilenko is one of the most annoying players in the NBA; the guy is a pest. AK47 is constantly moving and always buzzing around under the hoop looking for steals and rebounds. Kirilenko is also a relentless defender and he can stretch the floor on the offensive end from time-to-time.

Danilo Gallinari is going to have his hands full, but he played one of his best games against the Wolves in their first meeting. Gallo went 6-11 from the field and 6-6 from the foul line for 19 points and he added 6 rebounds and 2 blocks in that first game. Efficient shooting nights have been few-and-far between for Gallo this season and he'll likely need a big game in order for his team to come away with a win tonight.

Views you can use:

-The Nuggets had just 9 turnovers last night in Detroit. That was a little unusual ...

-The Nuggets got 25 points, 9 rebounds, and 7 blocks from JaKosofey McKoufogov in Detroit in 47 minutes.

-Anthony Randolph, who played well in his 10 minute stint with two huge blocks, was the only Nuggets to record a minus in the plus/minus department last night (-2).

***

Denver Nuggets Tickets

Nate_Timmons on Twitter
ntimmons73@yahoo.com

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