Although his late game heroics propelled the Minnesota Timberwolves to a win over the Memphis Grizzlies last Friday, Ricky Rubio did not play in the 112-101 win over the Detroit Pistons on Sunday. Rubio, as well as Shabazz Muhammad, will return tonight to face the Atlanta Hawks at Target Center -- tip is scheduled for 7:00 PM. Minnesota, hoping to extend a three game winning streak, is 4-4 since the loss to Atlanta back on Jan. 25.
Atlanta enters Monday 35-4 over the last 39 games, and are the fifth team to win at least 35-of-38 contests during a single season in the last 20 years -- per the Elias Sports Bureau. Hence why they sit atop the Eastern Conference with a record of 44-10. Atlanta will look to bounce back after being defeated in Memphis last night, 94-88.
Eastern Conference All-Star Jeff Teague entered Sunday averaging 23.3 points over Atlanta's previous three games. He scored 22 points on 9-of-13 shooting against Memphis but tweaked his left ankle during the fourth quarter. Teague returned shortly thereafter, and "moved pretty well in the last 2 or 3 minutes" according to Mike Budenholzer, but his status for Monday's matchup remains uncertain.
Minnesota would be catching a huge break if Teague is unable to play tonight, as he's put up double-figures in 23 straight outings, the longest streak of his career.
Flip Saunders suggested Sunday that Nikola Pekovic will be available tonight. Minnesota's beastly center finished with 29 points on 9-of-16 from the field (11-of-12 from the free throw line) in 32 minutes of action last night -- Pekovic played all but 12 second in the final frame in the victory over Detroit. He told Alan Horton last night the hardest part about Monday's matchup with Atlanta is that it is a back to back scenario. Since returning to the lineup on Jan. 21, Pekovic is averaging 14.5 points and 5.8 rebounds in 21.7 minutes per game and, as Eric noted this morning, his presence really helps Minnesota from a team rebounding standpoint.
Am I the only one who thinks Anthony Bennett seems to be playing serviceably, lately? Ok, maybe serviceable is strong. Just note this: Since Jan. 1, Bennett has collected 86 rebounds (22 offensive, 60 defensive) in only 345 minutes. By comparison, Thaddeus Young tallied 117 rebounds (39 offensive, 78 defensive) over the same stretch, but played nearly twice as often (733 minutes).
Moreover, Bennett did this last night, which was pretty cool.
Minnesota native Mike Muscala was recalled by Atlanta yesterday after a brief, one game stint with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants of the NBA Development League. The Roseville High School graduate contributed 12 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks and 1 steal in 33 minutes -- while shooting 6-of-12 from the field -- last Saturday against the Iowa Energy. In five appearances with Fort Wayne, Muscala has posted averages of 14.4 points, 8.8 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.2 blocks in 29.8 minutes per game.
Unearth is cool. So is this video.