Jazz-Timberwolves Preview

Despite impressive individual numbers, Kevin Love won’t be

leading the Minnesota Timberwolves to the playoffs.

Former teammate Al Jefferson, who is doing his best to keep the

Utah Jazz in the postseason race, knows all too well what Love is

going through.

Coming off a record-setting night, Love and the Timberwolves

will try to avoid a fifth consecutive loss to the visiting Jazz on

Friday night.

Love recorded 16 points and 21 rebounds Wednesday night for his

52nd consecutive double-double as Minnesota (16-50) snapped a

three-game losing streak with a 101-75 win over Indiana.

Love surpassed Moses Malone for the longest double-double run

since the ABA-NBA merger in 1976 in the victory – just the team’s

12th during the stretch.

“In some ways I wish it would’ve ended. In some ways I’d like to

keep it going,” said Love, who almost didn’t play and sat out the

fourth quarter with his team in control due to a sore left

knee.

“Maybe it’ll die down a little bit and I can just go out there

and do my job. Nothing’s really changed about how I feel about the

double-double streak or the situation. I just go out there and play

hard.”

Love is averaging 23.5 points and 17.0 rebounds in two games

against the Jazz this season.

Minnesota, allowing an NBA-worst 106.9 points per game, limited

the Pacers to an opponent season-low in points and shooting at 29.6

percent.

While the Timberwolves improved to 5-0 when holding teams to

under 90 points, they could have trouble slowing Utah down. The

Jazz are averaging 112.3 points during their four-game run in the

series.

Utah (34-31), which as of Jan. 16 sat in a tie for third place

in the Western Conference, lost 18 of 24 before Jefferson’s tip-in

as time expired gave it a 96-94 win at Toronto on Wednesday

night.

Jefferson, scoring a team-high 18.7 points per game, finished

with 34 and eight rebounds. He is averaging 27.9 points and 10.3

boards over his last 10 contests.

Utah is 1 1/2 games behind Memphis for the final playoff spot in

the West.

“I’ve been in situations when I was with Minnesota and teams

would come in fighting for a playoff spot and they called us

spoilers,” Jefferson told the NBA’s official website. “Right now

I’m on other side, I’m fighting for this playoff spot.”

Jefferson averaged 20.1 points and 10.4 rebounds with the

Timberwolves as they went 61-185 from 2007-10.

The Jazz trailed by as many as 14 in the fourth quarter

Wednesday but battled back for their second win in three games.

“It’s a perfect example there that you’re never out of the game,

no matter how many points you get down,” said Jefferson, who had 23

points and nine rebounds in a 112-107 win at Minnesota on Dec.

22.

“You’ve just got to keep playing, give it all you got and you

never know how things will turn around for you.”

Utah, which hasn’t won back-to-back games since a three-game run

Jan. 8-14, also defeated the Timberwolves 108-100 on Jan. 28 as

Andrei Kirilenko and Paul Millsap combined for 57 points. Jefferson

was held to eight on 3-of-14 shooting.

Kirilenko (back) and Millsap (left knee) were held out against

the Raptors, and it is unknown if either will be available for this

game.