Grizzlies-Timberwolves Preview

The Memphis Grizzlies are within striking distance of another
top-four finish in the Western Conference but could use some wins
away from home if they want to make a serious push.

The Grizzlies will try to end a season-high five-game road
losing streak Saturday night by continuing their dominance over the
Minnesota Timberwolves.

Memphis (48-24) is only a half-game behind the fourth-place Los
Angeles Clippers in the West and one game back of third-place
Denver, but the Grizzlies haven’t helped themselves with their
recent road woes.

Their five-game skid away from home is their longest since they
dropped six straight Nov. 15-Dec. 6, 2010, but they might have a
prime opportunity to end that losing streak Saturday. Memphis has
won 10 in a row over Minnesota (26-45) and four straight at the
Target Center.

With the playoffs right around the corner, the Grizzlies could
use some road momentum as they’ll play four of their next five
games away from Memphis.

The Grizzlies are coming off Friday’s 103-94 victory over
Houston following back-to-back defeats. Zach Randolph had 21 points
and 12 rebounds after scoring a season-low three points and
grabbing four boards in Wednesday’s loss at New York.

“Man, it’s an 82-game season. Even MJ (Michael Jordan) had bad
games. It’s just part of it,” said Randolph, who topped 20 points
for the first time since Feb. 27.

Marc Gasol also scored 21 in his second game back from an
abdominal tear and helped his team avoid a third straight loss.

“It’s always good to be able to be back home and win, especially
after we lost a couple of games on the road,” Gasol said.
“Offensively, I think we did a good job 70 percent of the game, 30
percent we didn’t do so good, but we got the win.”

The Grizzlies haven’t need too much help from Randolph or Gasol
when facing Minnesota this season, winning two matchups by a
combined 32 points. Mike Conley had 20 points and paced five
Grizzlies in double figures in a 92-77 victory over the
Timberwolves on March 18.

Tayshaun Prince scored 18 while Conley, Randolph and Austin Daye
added 16 apiece in a 105-88 home rout Feb. 10.

The Grizzlies, who finished fourth in the West in 2011-12, are
making their first visit to the Target Center since a 91-84 victory
April 17, and will face a team that’s alternated wins and losses in
its last six games.

The Timberwolves scored a surprising 101-93 home win over
Northwest Division-leading Oklahoma City on Friday as Nikola
Pekovic had 22 points and 15 rebounds. It was the best scoring
performance for the center in eight games since returning from an
abdominal strain.

“I’m just really proud of how the guys played,” coach Rick
Adelman said. “(Pekovic) had it really going inside and it’s just a
solid win against one of the best teams in the league.

“We keep talking about beating good teams, and there’s no reason
we can’t do that. Maybe tonight is going to give us some
confidence.”

Ricky Rubio, who had 17 points and seven assists Friday, is
averaging 13.8 points and 8.0 assists in six games since finishing
with two points on 1-of-6 shooting and two assists against
Memphis.