Tim's Game Preview: Game 26, Memphis Grizzlies

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Kevin Love discussing trade rumors with his agent, after the Wolves proved they play better without him anyway.

Minnesota Timberwolves (13-12) vs. Memphis Grizzlies (12-13) at FedEx Forum

"I think (playing without Love) builds character and it builds a winning attitude," Beasley said.

Kevin Love's MVP hopes and future with the Timberwolves took a huge blow last night with the Wolves' victory over the Sacramento Kings. There's a reason the Wolves held the Kings to 84 points (11 below the Wolves' season OPP/G average) on 37% shooting. There's a reason why you didn't see any T-Wolves players arguing with the referees last night.

Love was back home in Minneapolis. Clearly, he was part of the problem all along, and not the solution. I guess we can thank our lucky stars that David Kahn was smart enough to know this and avoid signing Love to a five-year deal.

Let's take a look at what might be in store for tonight's game, which, to the dismay of the Grizzlies, will also be played without Kevin Love.

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Before the 2007 NBA Draft, how many people predicted that Mike Conley would find more success in the NBA than Greg Oden?

Projected Starters

C: The Peksecutioner vs. Ricky Rubio's Baggage Handler

PF: The Caged Lion vs. MMMMaaaarrrreeeesssseeee Speights

SF: I'm Too Good for the Rookie-Sophomore Game vs. Wow, You Really Got a Max Deal?

SG: They're Not Saying 'Boo', They're Saying 'Luke'...Right? vs. Professor Pondexter

PG: The Unicorn vs. Greg Oden's Son

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DeMarcus Cousins wanted nothing to do with Nikola Pekovic last night.

Last 5 Games

Memphis Grizzlies:

Win vs. Denver 100-97 (OT)
Win at Atlanta 96-77
Loss at Oklahoma City 94-101
Loss at Boston 80-98
Loss vs. San Antonio 84-89

Minnesota Timberwolves:

Win at Houston 120-108
Loss vs. Indiana 99-109
Win at New Jersey 108-105
Win vs. Houston 100-91
Win vs. Sacramento 86-84

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Sad news for the promising Darrell Arthur, who is out for the rest of this season. The silver lining for Arthur, of course, is that he gets to avoid defending Pekovic tonight in the post.

Injuries

Memphis Grizzlies:

Tony Allen - Questionable with a hip/knee injury
Darrell Arthur - Out for the remainder of the season with a right Achilles injury
Zach Randolph - Excepted to miss at least two more weeks with a slightly torn right MCL

Minnesota Timberwolves:

Malcolm Lee - Still rehabbing with the Sioux Falls Skyforce after left knee surgery
Darko Milicic - Questionable with a bruised left quadriceps and broken heart

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Davis was released by a team whose two best power forwards are currently injured. That can't be an ego boost.

Recent News

Kevin Love will sit out tonight's game as he completes his two-game suspension.

Ricky Rubio and Derrick Williams were selected to play in the 2012 BBVA Rising Stars Challenge. Wesley Johnson and Nikola Pekovic were not selected.

Malcolm Lee scored 16 points and dished out 6 assists in his first performance with the Sioux Falls Skyforce last night.

The Grizzlies waived forward Josh Davis. Davis had 5 points and 5 rebounds in 14 minutes against the Wolves in their January 4th matchup.

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Rubio is on pace to finish with 870 assists this season (rounding up from 599.28). The all-time NBA record for assists in a season by a rookie is 868 by Mark "Mama There Goes That Man With My Record" Jackson.

Noteworthy Stats

  • Ricky Rubio (2.44) and Mike Conley (2.43) are currently the league leaders in steals per game
  • Rubio's assist ratio of 38.9 is 5th in the NBA behind Steve Nash, Jason Kidd, Jose Calderon and Earl Watson. Kyrie Irving's assist ratio of 21.3 puts him 8th among rookies and 67th overall, behind such passing icons as Ben Wallace (22.0), Josh McRoberts (24.9) and DeSagana Diop (26.1)
  • Nikola Pekovic is tied with Brandon Rush for the 2nd highest TS% in the Western Conference (.664). Only Oklahoma City's Nick Collison has a higher TS% (.703)
  • The Wolves have only blocked 103 shots this season, which is 3rd worst in the NBA
  • The Grizzlies have forced the highest number of turnovers this season at 455

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Memphis head coach Lionel Hollins calling out the Grizzlies' best offensive play: the fake high-five and belly poke.

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