Andrew Wiggins won’t get another crack at fellow rookie Jabari Parker, but the opportunity to help Minnesota end its lengthy losing streak is all that should be on the mind of any Timberwolves player.
Wiggins and the visiting Timberwolves can avoid a 14th straight defeat by handing the Milwaukee Bucks a fifth consecutive home loss Friday night.
In a matchup of the top two 2014 draft picks, Wiggins had 14 points, eight rebounds, four assists and committed six turnovers while Parker finished with 11, seven boards and three assists to help Milwaukee (19-18) snap a four-game skid to Minnesota with a 103-86 road victory Nov. 26.
The Timberwolves (5-29) won their next game but only once more in the last 20 and not since Dec. 10.
"We just keep pounding on that rock," coach Flip Saunders told the Timberwolves’ official website. "Though it might not break, eventually if we keep on pounding it’s going to break."
Minnesota might catch a break with Parker out for the season with a knee injury and 6-foot-11 Larry Sanders, who had 15 points and seven boards in the first meeting, sidelined for personal reasons.
However, without injured contributors Ricky Rubio (ankle), Nikola Pekovic (ankle, wrist) and Kevin Martin (wrist), the improving Bucks still pose a difficult challenge for a Minnesota team that’s mired in its longest single-season slide since dropping the final 15 games of 2010-11.
Wiggins (14.3 points per game), though, has provided hope during these dismal times. He’s averaged 22.6 points in five games and is shooting 51.5 percent while scoring at least 20 in seven of the last eight.
"He continues to grow and be a big focus for us," Saunders said.
Wiggins scored 25 points but matched a season high with six turnovers and missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer in Wednesday’s 113-111 home loss to Phoenix. Minnesota led by as many as 13 points and seven after three quarters before Phoenix scored 42 in the fourth.
"It’s disappointing because when we lose it sucks the energy out of a team," said Saunders, whose team ranks last in the league allowing 108.6 points per game. "Guys start thinking if it’s fun to come to work the next day. These guys have been pretty resilient through it all. You’d like them to win for positive reinforcement."
Milwaukee hasn’t reached 100 points in five straight games, but won three of them, including Wednesday while matching a season low for points allowed in a 97-77 win at lowly Philadelphia.
The Bucks, however, have dropped four straight and six of eight at home after starting 5-2 there. They’ve averaged 90.7 points on 41.2 percent shooting while losing the last three at the Bradley Center by a combined 14 points.
Milwaukee shot 53.9 percent, including 8 of 17 from 3-point range, against the 76ers. Brandon Knight and Khris Middleton each had 18 points while Zaza Pachulia added 11 with 12 boards and seven assists.
Knight (18.2 ppg) scored 15 and was one of seven Bucks in double figures at Minnesota in November.
The Bucks could have Kenyon Martin available after signing the veteran forward Friday to a 10-day contract to replenish a depleted frontcourt. The 37-year-old Martin played 32 games last season for New York.