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.