The Memphis Grizzlies are undermanned and have been especially
bad at home lately, but based on their recent meetings with the
Minnesota Timberwolves, there may be no team they’re more happy to
Unfortunately for Memphis, Kevin Love won’t be sitting this one
More than half of the Grizzlies’ 11 straight wins against the
Timberwolves have come with Love on the sidelines, but they’ll have
to figure out a way to contain Minnesota’s star on Sunday fresh off
one of the best games of his career.
Tony Allen and Zach Randolph have missed time, Quincy Pondexter
may be out for the season and Marc Gasol’s timetable for returning
from an MCL sprain is unclear, so Memphis (10-12) hardly resembles
the group that played in the Western Conference finals less than
seven months ago.
The Grizzlies have lost seven of 10, with Friday’s 104-98 defeat
in New Orleans their third straight loss in which they allowed an
opponent to shoot 50 percent or better.
Memphis led by nine late in the second quarter before the
Pelicans went on a 45-17 run over the next 17 minutes.
“We just couldn’t score, then they just hit their shots,”
Randolph and Memphis haven’t had a tough time slowing down the
Timberwolves (11-12) in recent seasons, winning the last 11
meetings while holding Minnesota to just 85.8 points per game.
But the Timberwolves didn’t have Love for six of those,
including all three in last season’s series, and that can mean
quite a bit against Minnesota. Love had a season-high 42 points and
14 rebounds on Friday, though the Timberwolves blew a nine-point
fourth-quarter lead in a 117-110 loss to San Antonio.
That didn’t keep Spurs coach Gregg Popovich from being
”He is a great player,” Popovich said. ”When you can play
inside and outside the way he does, he is a tough cover. … I
thought we made some really fundamental errors in guarding him,
but, be that as it may, he is a monster.”
Love has missed four of the Timberwolves’ last five games in
Memphis, and Minnesota has dropped eight straight in FedEx Forum
since a 94-87 win Jan. 6, 2009 – Love’s rookie season.
Love hit 8 of 9 from 3-point range against the Spurs, but the
Timberwolves’ shooting has mostly been cold all month. Minnesota is
shooting 40.2 percent from the field in December, by far the worst
in the West.
Love has taken 137 3s – easily the most of any non-guard in the
league – and with him spending a lot of time on the perimeter, the
Timberwolves have struggled inside. Minnesota has been outscored in
the paint by an average of 14.5 points in its last eight games.
That should be good news for Memphis, which has outscored
opponents by an average of 8.7 points in the lane this month
despite the absence of Gasol.
The Grizzlies, however, haven’t exactly been efficient –
particularly at home. Memphis has lost seven of nine at FedEx Forum
and is shooting just 39.5 percent there in its last four games.
Perhaps no player on either team has struggled more with his
shot than Ricky Rubio, but the Timberwolves’ point guard has shown
some signs of turning it around the last few games.
Averaging 8.4 points and shooting just 36.0 percent through Dec.
7, Rubio has averaged 17.0 points and shot 44.1 percent to go along
with 8.0 assists and 3.0 steals per game in his last three.
Minnesota is 8-2 if Rubio scores 12 points or more.