The Minnesota Timberwolves know they can’t afford to let too many more games get away if they want to make the playoffs.
A visit from the NBA’s worst team could help them from falling further out of contention in the Western Conference.
The Timberwolves go for a fourth consecutive win over the Milwaukee Bucks, who try to avoid a 13th loss in 14 road games Tuesday night.
Minnesota (31-31) put together a 6-1 stretch before dropping two of three to open a crucial four-game homestand. The Timberwolves, who occupy 10th place in the West, are five games out of eighth.
"Twenty games left, anything can happen," All-Star forward Kevin Love said. "We obviously have to go on some sort of a run. But if those other teams keep winning and pulling games out of their you-know-what, we’re in trouble."
Minnesota is hoping to quickly regroup following Sunday’s 111-104 loss to Toronto. Love had 26 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists, but the Timberwolves were outrebounded 48-38.
"We’ve got to go out and win games we’re not supposed to win," coach Rick Adelman said. "That’s the approach you have to take. If you’re going to get down and you start moping about it, you’re going to lose again."
Minnesota has taken care of business against the Bucks (13-50), winning the last three meetings by an average of 13.6 points. The Timberwolves cruised to a 117-95 victory in Milwaukee on Dec. 28 behind 33 points and 15 boards from Love.
The Bucks have averaged 93.6 points during a 2-11 stretch in Minnesota.
Milwaukee had dropped three in a row overall before beating last-place Orlando 105-98 on Monday. Brandon Knight led the way with 24 points, Khris Middleton scored 21 and Ersan Ilyasova had 16 and 11 boards.
"I just wanted to come out and be aggressive, come out and be strong and attack the basket," said Knight, who extended his career-best streak of scoring in double-digits to 18 straight games. "We were able to get out and get a lot of easy baskets, so that got us in a good rhythm and we were able to steamroll from there."
The Bucks, who trailed by as many as 18 early on, outscored the Magic 48-30 in the paint and 19-5 in transition. Milwaukee made 21 of 25 foul shots while Orlando shot 5 of 8.
While Knight is averaging 24.7 points over his last three home games, he’s scored 15.7 per contest during a seven-game stretch on the road. Knight scored 18 in December’s meeting against the Timberwolves but shot 6 of 15.
The Bucks are 2-22 against the West this season, beating Northwest Division-worst Utah and the conference-worst Lakers. The Timberwolves have averaged 109.7 points in going 9-3 at home against the East.
Minnesota’s Kevin Martin is averaging 25.0 points in five games against Milwaukee since 2009-10, his highest mark against any team during that time.