Preview: Wolves at Utah
- January 1, 2013 - 10:29 PM
Preview: The Wolves play the first of back-to-back road games against Northwest Division rivals, traveling to Denver on Thursday night. The Wolves are coming off a homecourt victory over Phoenix on Saturday, but have lost four consecutive road games and are 5-9 on the road this season. The Wolves also have lost their past five games at Utah. The Jazz has lost three in a row and five of its past six, but are 9-5 at home.
Players to watch: The contest features numerous coaches and players with close ties to tonight's opponent. The Wolves' Andrei Kirilenko makes his first visit since leaving the Jazz after 10 seasons following the 2010-11 season. Utah's Al Jefferson, who spent three seasons (2007-10) with the Wolves, leads the Jazz in scoring (17.0) and rebounding (10.0) and has 15 double-doubles. Former Wolves first-round draft pick Randy Foye has found a home with the Jazz after signing as a free agent during the offseason. The guard is averaging 10.9 points, shooting 41.2 percent from three-point range. His 70 three-pointers are double the next-closest teammate. Utah coach Tyrone Corbin and assistant coach Sidney Lowe are former Wolves players, and Lowe was Minnesota's head coach from 1992 through '94.
Numbers: The Wolves are showing signs of riding Kevin Love's scoring touch, going 4-1 the past five times that the forward has scored 20-plus points. The most consistent Wolf recently has been center Nikola Pekovic, who is averaging 20.7 points and 10.4 rebounds over the past nine games. Foye is fifth in the NBA with his 70 made three-pointers. Jefferson is tied for No. 8 in the NBA in double-doubles. Love, sidelined because of assorted injuries much of the season, has 12 double-doubles in the 16 games he has played.
Injuries: Ricky Rubio, who started having back spasms last Friday and missed Saturday's game at Phoenix, didn't make the trip and will miss the Utah and Denver games. Guards Chase Budinger and Brandon Roy are out long-term recovering from knee surgeries. For Utah, point guard Mo Williams is out because of a sprained right thumb and forward Marvin Williams is questionable with right knee inflammation.
© 2013 Star Tribune