Jazz-Timberwolves Preview

The Minnesota Timberwolves and Utah Jazz have both fallen below

the .500 mark.

Only one of the clubs will be able to even its record before the

All-Star break.

The Timberwolves and Jazz look to regroup Wednesday night in

Minnesota in their final game before this weekend’s


After leading by as many as 14 points early, Minnesota (16-17)

saw its three-game winning streak snapped with Monday’s 103-101

overtime loss at Denver. The Timberwolves had a chance to tie the

game after stealing an inbounds pass with 3.9 seconds remaining in

the extra session, but Martell Webster drove in for a dunk instead

of pulling up for a 3-point attempt.

“If I had to do it over again, yeah, I’d probably pull up for a

jump shot,” Webster said. “But what was going through my mind was

go to the rim and possibly get fouled. The contingency to that shot

was get a bucket, get a foul, they miss free throws and we get

another shot. It didn’t work out that way.”

The Jazz (15-16) also let one slip away Monday, suffering their

ninth loss in 12 games with a 106-102 defeat at home to San


“It’s a tough loss, especially the position we’ve been in,

especially the last (12) games,” backup point guard Earl Watson

said. “It’s tough. All you can do is keep playing hard, keep doing

the best you can, keep pushing forward.”

Utah also fell 101-85 at Houston on Sunday.

“The last three games (before the break) are very important, so

far we’re 0-2,” said Al Jefferson, who posted 20 points and 11

rebounds Monday for his fifth double-double in six games. “We gotta

try to finish this one at the .500 mark. Minnesota’s playing well

right now, we just gotta go in there and find a way to win.”

Jefferson, who spent three seasons with Minnesota from 2007-10,

has since led the Jazz to four wins in five meetings against his

former team. He had 18 points and 12 boards in a 108-98 home

victory Jan. 21 while helping limit Timberwolves star Kevin Love to

15 points and eight rebounds.

Love, who’s recorded an NBA-leading 29 double-doubles in just 31

games, compiled 22 points and 13 rebounds versus the Nuggets on

Monday but went 7 of 22 from the field. The two-time All-Star is

shooting 31.1 percent over his last two contests.

The Timberwolves had dropped four of five home meetings in this

series before prevailing 122-101 on March 11 while holding

Jefferson to nine points and 4-of-13 shooting.

Minnesota is 9-2 at the Target Center when holding opponents

under 100 points. Utah has dropped seven of its last eight road

games, and is averaging 91.6 points away from home.

The Timberwolves could be without starting center Nikola Pekovic

after he sprained his right ankle Monday. Pekovic had been

averaging 21.0 points and 11.6 rebounds over his previous five

games before getting hurt. Fellow center Darko Milicic is also

uncertain to be available after sitting out against Denver due to a

stomach ailment.

Utah shooting guard Raja Bell could miss a second straight game

after re-injuring his right adductor.