MINNEAPOLIS – The Timberwolves are in Orlando ahead of tonight’s matchup with the Magic (6 p.m., FOX Sports North). Everyone but Chase Budinger (knee surgery) and Malcolm Lee (right knee) traveled with the team on this two-game trip to Florida, though Brandon Roy (right knee) will not play. Josh Howard (hyperextended right knee) is out for the next two games, and Kevin Love, who sat Saturday with flu-like symptoms, confirmed at shootaround that he will play.
Tonight will be the first time we see Ricky Rubio and Love on the floor together, and the team is sticking to what coach Rick Adelman said Saturday, that the point guard won’t yet play in both games of back-to-backs. Rubio will play in Orlando and then sit tomorrow night in Miami.
With their 12-9 record, the Timberwolves have logged their best start through 21 games since they opened 2005-06 with the same record. They hadn’t won seven of nine games, their current streak, since January 2009, and a win in Orlando would push them to four games over .500 for the first time since January 2007.
Orlando tonight will be missing Al Harrington, who had offseason knee surgery, and Hedo Turkoglu, who has a broken left hand.
Where things stand: With the Timberwolves’ recent hot streak – they’ve won their last four games – they’ve pushed themselves to the sixth-best record in the Western Conference. Here’s a closer look at the standings after week seven of NBA action.
East: (1) Knicks, (2) Heat, (3) Hawks, (4) Bulls, (5) Nets, (6, tie) Bucks and Pacers, (8) Celtics. On the bubble: 76ers are a half-game out.
West: (1) Thunder, (2) Spurs, (3) Clippers, (4) Grizzlies, (5) Warriors, (6) Timberwolves, (7, tie) Nuggets and Jazz. On the bubble: Trail Blazers and Rockets are a game out, Mavericks a game and a half.
– Four of last year’s playoff teams, the 76ers, Magic, Mavericks and Lakers, are currently among the league’s 14 worst teams.
– Of the teams currently among the top eight in their respective conferences, the Bucks (-1.2) and Celtics (-0.5) have negative point differentials. All teams in the top eight in the West have positive point differentials.
– Of the teams currently among the bottom seven in their respective conferences, only the Lakers have a positive point differential, of +2.8. In fact, it’s tied with Atlanta for the seventh-best point differential in the league, though the Lakers currently sit at 11-14.
– Longest current winning streaks: The Thunder have won 10 in a row, the Clippers nine in a row.
– Longest losing streaks: The Bobcats have lost 11 in a row, the Hornets seven in a row.
– The Western Conference sits at 88-62 against the East so far this year, off to a dominant start. The Timberwolves are 6-4 against the East.
– The Western Conference top eight right now is clearly separated into two bunches: one through five and six through eight. The Thunder, Spurs, Clippers, Grizzlies and Warriors are all within 3.5 games of one another, with a 2.5-game wedge between the bottom of that pile (the Warriors) and the Timberwolves, Nuggets and Jazz.