Tim's Game Preview: Game 50, Denver Nuggets

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The clock is ticking to surround Kevin Love with quality players, so that four seasons from now, Love isn't just a memory.

Minnesota Timberwolves (23-26) vs. Denver Nuggets (26-22) at Target Center

Kevin Love, only in his 4th season, is already the second-best player in Timberwolves' franchise history and he's closer to #1 than he is to #3. Only three Wolves have finished a season with a WS/48 of over .200. Kevin Garnett did it four times. Sam Cassell did it once. Kevin Love is about to accomplish that feat for the second straight season.

He's a top-10 player, and the best power forward, in the entire NBA. His contract is also up in three seasons. That's why words like, "patience" and "development" are beginning to ring hollow. After seeing what has happened with LeBron in Cleveland, what is likely going to happen with Dwight Howard in Orlando, and even what happened in Minnesota with Kevin Garnett, the job of surrounding Kevin Love with contending-level talent should be an urgent priority.

Tonight, the Wolves are finally back home in the Target Center to play the Denver Nuggets. They don't get to stay in Minnesota for long, however, as they have to be in Memphis by Tuesday. Arron Afflalo will not be present for tonight's game, after being suspended for throwing this vicious elbow to Utah's Gordon Hayward.

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Wilson Chandler has only been with the Nuggets for a week after returning from China, but he's already back in the Nuggets' starting lineup.

Projected Starting Lineups

C: Kevin Love vs. Timofey Mozgov
PF: Derrick Williams vs. Kenneth Faried
SF: Wesley Johnson vs. Wilson Chandler
SG: Martell Webster vs. Corey Brewer
PG: Luke Ridnour vs. Ty Lawson

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Kevin Love leads the NBA in scoring in the month of March at 30.9 points per game. Just wait until he learns how to create his own shot.

Last 5 Games

Minnesota Timberwolves (4th in Northwest, 13 1/2 behind OKC; 11th in West, 3 1/2 behind Denver for 8th)

Fri, Mar 16: Loss at LA Lakers 92-97
Sun, Mar 18: Loss at Sacramento 99-115
Mon, Mar 19: Win at Golden State 97-93
Wed, Mar 21: Loss at San Antonio 100-116
Fri, Mar 23: Loss at Oklahoma City 140-149 (OT)

Denver Nuggets (3rd in Northwest, 10 behind OKC; 8th in West, 1/2 game ahead of Houston for 8th)

Thu, Mar 15: Loss vs. Oklahoma City 90-103
Sat, Mar 17: Win vs. Boston 98-91
Mon, Mar 19: Loss vs. Dallas 95-112
Wed, Mar 21: Win vs. Detroit 116-115
Fri, Mar 23: Loss at Utah 102-121

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Michael Beasley and Nikola Pekovic are both questionable for tonight's game against Denver.

Injuries

Minnesota Timberwolves

Michael Beasley - Questionable with a sprained left big toe

Nikola Pekovic - Questionable with a sore ankle

Ricky Rubio - Out for remainder of the season after left ACL and LCL surgery

Denver Nuggets

Rudy Fernandez - Out for the remainder of the season after lower back surgery

Danilo Gallinari - Out indefinitely with a broken left thumb

Kosta Koufos - Questionable with left knee tendinitis

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Corey Brewer has two NCAA championships, an NBA championship and is currently a rotation player for a Western Conference playoff team. He also has a higher PER than every wing on the Minnesota Timberwolves (unless you consider Derrick Williams a wing).

Noteworthy Stats

  • Minnesota lost 15-in-a-row to end the 2010-11 season and lost 23 of 24 to finish 2009-2010. The Wolves have 17 games remaining this season
  • Only 10 NBA players in the past 25 years have recorded a triple double off of the bench. J.J. Barea is one of those 10. The last person before Barea to accomplish the feat was Terrence Williams, who had 27 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists as a reserve for the New Jersey Nets on March 9th, 2010.
  • Kevin Love in March: 30.9 points and 13.4 rebounds per game with 47% field goal % and 46.8 three-point %
  • With Nikola Pekovic in the lineup, the Wolves are 15-14 this season (.517). Without him, they are 8-12 (.400).

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I wonder what it is like having a guy as smart as Masai Ujiri in charge of your favorite basketball team. If David Kahn had traded Carmelo Anthony, he would've gotten Ronny Turiaf, Toney Douglas and a 1st round draft pick.

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