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News » Thunder-Timberwolves Preview 2009-03-21

Thunder-Timberwolves Preview 2009-03-21

Thunder-Timberwolves Preview 2009-03-21
After struggling on a three-game road trip, the Minnesota Timberwolves will look to continue their recent success at home. The Timberwolves will also try to stay out of last place in the Northwest Division as they host the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday.

For the third straight season, Minnesota (20-49) is battling with the former Seattle SuperSonics to stay out of the Northwest cellar and leads the Thunder by a game heading into the teams' final meeting this season.

The Timberwolves avoided their first last-place showing since 1994-95 by finishing three games ahead in 2007-08 and a game in front in 2006-07.

Despite owning one of the NBA's worst home records at 10-25, Minnesota comes into Sunday's game with two wins in its last three at the Target Center and looking for consecutive victories there for the first time since Jan. 23 and 25. The Timberwolves' 10 home victories are tied for the fewest with Sacramento and the Los Angeles Clippers, and they are trying to avoid their fourth straight overall loss and 23rd in 27 games.

Following single-digit losses at San Antonio and New Orleans, Minnesota endured a 107-88 drubbing Friday night at Houston with its deficit growing larger after each quarter.

"They beat us up pretty good," Timberwolves coach Kevin McHale said. "We couldn't get anything going offensively, and then our defense didn't come through. It was a bad combination for us."

While rookie Kevin Love has thrived recently in helping replace Al Jefferson, Minnesota hasn't fared well without its leading scorer (23.1 points per game) and rebounder (11.0 per game). Since losing Jefferson for the season Feb. 8 to a torn right ACL, the Timberwolves are 3-16.

Love, the fifth pick in this year's draft, has averaged 20.0 points and 12.3 rebounds in the last four games, but Randy Foye helped Minnesota to its most lopsided home win of the season, hitting a career-best six 3-pointers on his way to tying a then-career high 32 points in a 129-87 victory against the Thunder.

Jefferson had 21 points and 13 rebounds in that win, while Love added 16 and 15, respectively, to contribute to Oklahoma City's road woes.

The Thunder's five victories away from home are also tied for the fewest in the NBA. They have lost consecutive road games but won twice in their last five.

While the Thunder were 5-2 without leading scorer Kevin Durant, they are 1-3 since his return from a sprained right ankle March 14. Durant, who has averaged 25.9 points, has led the team in scoring in each game, and recorded his 15th career double-double in Friday night's 101-94 loss to visiting Utah with 24 points and 12 rebounds.

Oklahoma City (19-50) rallied late but couldn't overcome a 15-point deficit late in the third quarter for its second straight loss.

"Utah did a great job running the offense and we couldn't get stops when we needed it," said Russell Westbrook, who had 22 points. "But I do think we did a good job fighting back when we dug ourselves a hole. They just shot a good percentage from the field, and it was just hard for us to get back in."

Oklahoma City earned its inaugural victory as the Thunder with an 88-85 home win over Minnesota on Nov. 2, but tied a franchise record with its 14th straight loss Nov. 28 with a 105-103 last-second defeat to the Timberwolves.

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: March 22, 2009


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