During the second quarter the Wolves ran out to a 16 point lead and led by 12 at the half and this one was looking like it might go the way of the last couple. But a funny thing happened on the way, as the Wizards mounted a furious comeback in the third quarter and held on to a late lead to get the much, much needed win over Minnesota, 104-100. Wittman talked extensively yesterday about the need to close out games and tonight the Wizards did just that, getting a couple of big time stops along with hitting all of their free throws. In fact, the Wizards were perfect from the charity stripe in the game, going 15-15. John Wall was very live in this one, attacking the basket frequently and finishing with 14 points and tying his career high with 16 assists. All four other Wizards starters were in double figures as well with Beal leading the way with 25 and Nene scoring 20. - Jacob Raim
We're closing in on tip-off here at Verizon Center, where the Wizards hope to snap their current four game skid.
Randy Wittman spoke before the game about the team needing to get back to their defensive principles tonight as they take on one of the NBA's highest scoring offenses.
An interesting nugget from his media availability came when he was asked to compare Kevin Love to another player in NBA history and he said there hasn't been a player like Love since the great Wes Unseld. The comparison comes due to both being known for their ability to rebound and send out long outlet passes, which is a rarity in the NBA today. The dangerous thing about Love is that he can also step back and hit the 3-point shot, he's made the same amount of 3's (25) as Bradley Beal this year.
Expect the Wizards to show a few different looks at Love, as Nene will be able to handle him on the block but they could use a Vesely or a Booker to try and defend him around the perimeter, as they are a little more athletic and can defend the perimeter.
Trevor Ariza (hamstring) and Al Harrington (knee) are both expected to be out tonight, which means the Wizards will likely to go back to Glen Rice Jr., Jan Vesely, and Garrett Temple off the bench. Vesely played his best game of the season on Saturday night, pulling down seven boards and providing some energy in that second unit. Temple took over the backup PG spot as Eric Maynor was a DNP Coaches Decision for the first time this year. We'll see if that trend continues tonight.
The Wizards need a win at home tonight as they hit the road right after the game and travel to Cleveland for a rematch with the Cavs tomorrow night at the Q.
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The Wizards are back in action tonight as they begin a 12 day stretch that has them playing eight games. All eight will be back-to-backs and all are either home-road or road-home, which will certainly test their depth.
The first of the four back-to-backs features tonight's #WizWolves game at Verizon Center and tomorrow night's #WizCavs game at the Q in Cleveland.
The Wizards have dropped four straight overall, including a tough home loss last Saturday night to the Cavs in which they squandered a late lead. After that, the message has been all
about finishing games and closing teams out
, which they hopefully will get to test tonight against Minnesota.
The good news is that the Wizards have either had leads or had a chance to win nearly every game they've played, which means that they are not far from being a winning team. The bad news is they are 2-7 and need to figure out a way to start tallying off some wins soon before they fall too far behind.
Facing a Tough Minnesota Team
The Wolves enter tonight's contest with a 7-4 record and will be a tough test to a Wizards defense which has not been as good as it was a year ago. They are giving up 104.6 ppg (26th in NBA) and are 18th in the league in defensive rating. The Wolves enter the game third in the league in scoring and can get the ball up and down the court in a hurry.
If the MVP trophy was given out after 11 games, it may be given to Kevin Love who is putting up some gaudy numbers. The sixth-year pro out of UCLA is averaging 26.8 points, 13.6 rebounds, and 4.5 assists per game. He's eclipsed 20 points and has recorded a double-double in all but one game thus far. Needless to say, he will be a guy the Wizards need to slow down to keep the Wolves offense in check tonight.
But it's not just Love the Wizards need to deal with in the post as his post mate, Nikola Pekovic, has become a solid young center in the league. He's a bruiser who will fight for every rebound and has a nice offensive game to compliment Love.
And speaking of complimenting one another, the Wolves backcourt features another great duo in Ricky Rubio and Kevin Martin. Rubio is a pass-first distributor who is one of the most creative point guards in the game, while Kevin Martin is a gunner who can score with the best two-guards in the league. Martin is sixth in the NBA in scoring at 24.4 ppg, while Rubio is 2nd in the NBA in assists at 9.6.
Tonight will present a true test to this Wizards team, but if they want to get back on track they need to start protecting their home floor and do so with a win tonight.
kicks off at 7pm from Verizon Center....
Another update coming during pre-game warmups.