Timberwolves-Warriors Preview

Kevin Love has returned from injury with a pair of his customary
double-doubles, but neither helped the Minnesota Timberwolves snap
out of their funk.

It’s been a similar story against the Golden State Warriors in
recent years, too.

Golden State seeks its 10th victory in 12 meetings versus
struggling Minnesota, which it hosts Saturday night.

The Timberwolves got off to a surprising 5-2 start without Love,
who was recovering from a broken right hand, and injured guard
Ricky Rubio, but things haven’t gone well despite the return of
their star forward.

Love scored 34 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in a 101-94 loss
to Denver on Wednesday, then finished with 24 and 13, respectively,
in Friday’s 103-95 defeat at Portland for Minnesota’s fourth
straight loss.

Nikola Pekovic added 18 points and 10 rebounds for the
Timberwolves (5-6), who allowed Portland to shoot 53.8 percent –
the best an opponent has shot against them this season.

”We just didn’t defend them well enough,” coach Rick Adelman
said. ”They shot the hell out of the ball, and we didn’t finish
plays at the basket.”

Portland hit 11 of 25 from 3-point range after Denver made 9 of
21 from behind the arc Wednesday.

“They just couldn’t miss. It’s as easy as that,” Love said.

Love’s career average of 20.4 points in 12 games – which include
two with 20-plus rebounds and 10 double-doubles – against Golden
State is his second-best against any team, but Minnesota is only
4-8 in those contests.

He sat out Minnesota’s 106-98 loss to Warriors on Nov. 16, as
Harrison Barnes and David Lee (13 rebounds) scored 18 points apiece
for Golden State.

The Warriors (7-6) had won four of their previous five before
Friday’s 102-91 loss at Denver. Lee finished with 21 points and 10
rebounds, but Barnes had only four points while leading scorer
Stephen Curry battled foul trouble and ended up with a season-low
six.

Carl Landry (19 points, eight rebounds) and Jarrett Jack (17
points) each had solid performances off the bench.

Curry entered the game averaging a team-best 19.3 points.

”I don’t know. It was a rough one out there for everybody,”
said Curry, who didn’t score until hitting a 3-pointer with 3:21
remaining in the game. ”I was coming back and forth off the bench
and missed a lot of time in the first half.

“That’s no excuse. I have to be more aggressive.”

Golden State’s 16.7 turnovers per game rank 26th in the NBA, and
they committed another 14 on Friday – including eight in the second
half that helped Denver erase the Warriors’ six-point halftime
lead.

It also is giving up 99.8 points per game, which ranks 24th.

”They turned it up a notch and we ran for the hills and didn’t
respond,” coach Mark Jackson said. ”We didn’t help the cause by
turning over the basketball and we allowed them transition points.
So they got it going. But we didn’t try to stop it. We actually
helped them keep it going.”

Curry hit 7 of 12 shots and scored 17 points in last week’s win
over the Wolves, and he’s averaging 24.2 in his last four games
against them.