Wolves vs. Thunder
Fox Sports North Plus
Kevin Garnett is expected to start for Minnesota tonight, and it will be his first road game in a Wolves jersey since returning in late February. Both teams are coming off losses headed into Friday night's game, but the Thunder have won three of their last five while the Wolves have lost six of their last seven and will be looking to avoid a third straight loss.
Minnesota has already played OKC twice this season, losing both games (by a combined 27 points). The teams' last matchup was on Jan. 26, also on the road. Russell Westbrook scored 18 points in the contest and led the Thunder to a 92-84 win. Reggie Jackson, Anthony Morrow, Serge Ibaka and Dion Waiters all added double-digit points, as well. Jackson will not be an issue this time around, as he was traded to Detroit in a three-team deal that sent Enes Kanter to Oklahoma City.
Rookie Andrew Wiggins led the Wolves with 23 points in that game, followed by Thaddeus Young (22 points) and Zach LaVine (11 points).
Minnesota will have to shoot the ball much better for a chance to win; in the last matchup, the team shot only 34.1 percent from the field and 15.4 percent from the three-point line.
Adreian Payne has been playing well for Minnesota in road games, and Justin Hamilton surprised Wolves fan in his debut game Wednesday with 15 points and two blocks. While it's encouraging to see these bench guys stepping up, the Wolves really need to see top-notch efforts (and results) from Wiggins and Rubio.
Wiggins looked worn out over the first two games of the four-game road trip, but he has still been putting up points. The rookie is averaging 13 points per game over the last three contests, while shooting 44.8 percent from the floor. Rubio has been completely out of sync this week, and he can't afford to play the way he has been when he faces Westbrook.
Ricky Rubio vs. Russell Westbrook. Since Durant has had an injury-plagued season, Westbrook has been a force to be reckoned with. Friday's outcome will most likely come down to Westbrook's performance and Ricky Rubio's ability to defend him.
In Durant's most recent absence, Westbrook has averaged 33.2 points, 11.1 assists and 10.7 rebounds per game. The point guard also became the first player since Michael Jordan to record four straight triple-doubles.
Rubio, who has averaged only five points on 24.5 shooting over the past two games, will have his hands full with Westbrook. He will have to really set the pace of the game early on in order to gain some control against Westbrook.
OKC's Kevin Durant (foot) and Steve Novak (appendix) are both sidelined indefinitely. Serge Ibaka will not play due to a sore knee.
Minnesota will again play without Anthony Bennett (ankle), Robbie Hummel (hand), and Shabazz Muhammad, who is out for the season after having surgery on his finger.
UPDATE: No Pek tonight.
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