Timberwolves-Bucks Preview

The Milwaukee Bucks weren’t feeling good about themselves after

coughing up a big lead in their season opener. Despite also coming

up short in their first game, the Minnesota Timberwolves had a more

optimistic attitude.

A night after solid debuts from Ricky Rubio and Derrick

Williams, the Timberwolves will hope for a better result Tuesday as

they try to spoil Milwaukee’s home opener.

Minnesota (0-1) got good news twice in June, finding out early

in the month that Rubio – the fifth pick in the 2009 draft – had

agreed to sign with the Timberwolves, then later selecting Williams

with the No. 2 overall pick.

Those two helped bring Minnesota back from as many as 12 down in

the third quarter to take the lead early in the fourth in Monday’s

season opener against Oklahoma City, but the Thunder made enough

plays down the stretch to escape with a 104-100 win.

“That’s a team that’s a contender and we took them down to the

last minute,” said Minnesota forward Kevin Love, who had 22 points,

12 rebounds and five assists. “The best thing is we gave ourselves

a chance and if we play like that the rest of the season and

continue to get better we’re going to win a lot of games.”

Williams had nine of his 13 points in the second half while

Rubio finished with six points, six assists and no turnovers in 26

minutes.

“I feel comfortable on the court and I feel like I helped the

team,” Rubio said. “We didn’t get it in the end, but we have a

chance. If we go this way, we can do a lot of good things.”

The Bucks (0-1) couldn’t have played much better halfway through

Monday’s season debut in Charlotte, holding a 59-45 lead early in

the third. However, Milwaukee’s impressive early defense

disappeared, and the Bobcats came roaring back to win 96-95.

Charlotte held a 52-39 edge on the boards, 15 of which came on

the offensive end.

“They took it to us in the third quarter and we had a hard time

responding,” Bucks coach Scott Skiles said. “They got all over the

offensive glass and we were flat-footed. They were quicker and more

athletic. They outplayed us in the third quarter and took control

of the game.”

Minnesota and Milwaukee typically play twice each season, but

with the shortened schedule Tuesday’s meeting is the only time

they’ll see each other in 2011-12.

That’s not to say they aren’t familiar with one another. The

Timberwolves and Bucks played a home-and-home during the preseason,

with Minnesota winning 117-96 at the Target Center on Dec. 17

before escaping Milwaukee on Wednesday with an 85-84 victory.

Love averaged 21.5 points and 15.5 boards in the wins. Williams

had 14 points in 21 minutes in the first matchup, while Rubio had

six points and six assists before sitting out the road contest.

Last regular season, Love averaged 18.5 points and 16.5 rebounds

while Michael Beasley averaged 21.0 points as the Timberwolves and

Bucks split two meetings, each winning at home.

Brandon Jennings, who had a team-high 22 points for Milwaukee in

Monday’s loss, has averaged 22.5 points, 10.0 assists and 3.0

steals in two career regular-season home meetings against

Minnesota.

Jennings helped pick up the slack Monday for Stephen Jackson,

who had six points in his Bucks debut before fouling out in just 17

minutes. Jackson may have a good chance to bounce back, as he’s

averaged 32.0 points in his last three games versus Minnesota.

Milwaukee is seeking to win its home opener for the eighth time

in nine seasons.

Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman will miss Tuesday’s game to

attend funeral services for his mother-in-law.

Bucks forward Drew Gooden also won’t be in attendance, having

been suspended one game for his flagrant foul in the opener. He was

ejected late in the third quarter for hitting Charlotte’s Gerald

Henderson in the head with his arm. Gooden had only four points

after averaging 11.3 last season.