The Minnesota Timberwolves are undoubtedly a stronger team with
Kevin Love in the lineup, but for one game, they came out on top
without their All-Star forward.
The Timberwolves get another chance to prove they’re far from a
With Love finishing his two-game suspension, the visiting
Timberwolves will try to win four in a row for the first time in
two seasons on Wednesday night when the struggling Memphis
Grizzlies go for a sixth consecutive victory in this series.
Love, the team leader with 25.0 points per game and 13.7
rebounds, missed Tuesday’s 86-84 victory over Sacramento after
being suspended two games for stepping on Houston’s Luis Scola
during the third quarter of Saturday’s 100-91 win.
Without Love, the Timberwolves (13-12) received big
contributions up front. Center Nikola Pekovic had 23 points,
Michael Beasley added 17 and rookie Derrick Williams – making his
third start – scored half of his 14 in the final four minutes. That
trio combined for 32 of the team’s 49 rebounds.
“I think (playing without Love) builds character and it builds a
winning attitude,” Beasley said. “Especially go up over .500 (for
the first time this season), that’s real important for us.”
Minnesota last won four in a row from Jan. 29-Feb. 6, 2010. That
run was capped off by a 109-102 victory over the Grizzlies – the
Timberwolves’ last win in this series.
Minnesota also will go for its first 4-0 run away from home
since Jan. 3-19, 2009.
Memphis (12-13) will try to extend its winning streak in this
series following a 90-86 victory in Minneapolis on Jan. 4.
Tony Allen scored a team-high 20 points for the Grizzlies in
that contest, but he could miss a third consecutive game with a
sore hip and knee.
That could be a big loss as coach Lionel Hollins is trying to
better manage his players’ minutes during this condensed 66-game
schedule. Rudy Gay (45), center Marc Gasol (42) and Mike Conley
(41) all logged heavy minutes in Monday’s 89-84 home loss to San
Memphis scored 11 fourth-quarter points – a season low for any
period – after a 25-6 run to end the third.
“It was tough,” Gay said after the team lost its third straight
to open a season-high five-game homestand. “A couple of guys were
fatigued from playing a lot of heavy minutes.”
Conley will need all the energy he can muster with rookie point
guard Ricky Rubio averaging 11.8 points, 9.9 assists and 3.0 steals
since coach Rick Adelman inserted him into the starting five 15
Rubio’s five steals on Tuesday vaulted him ahead of Conley for
first in the NBA with 2.44 per game. The Spanish point guard had 12
points, 10 assists and two steals on Jan. 4.
Conley scored 12 points with eight assists and three steals.
Love will miss a second consecutive game in Memphis. He was
sidelined with a strained left groin in a 106-89 loss at FedExForum
on April 2.
The Grizzlies have won four straight at home over Minnesota and
eight of nine overall in this series.