Warriors-Timberwolves Preview

The Minnesota Timberwolves nearly stole a game from one of the

NBA’s best teams earlier in the week, but once again fell apart

down the stretch.

They’ll look to come out with a full 48-minute effort against

the Golden State Warriors on Saturday night in a bid to avoid a

third straight loss at home.

Minnesota led by as much as 21 in Wednesday night’s 113-109 loss

to 13-2 San Antonio, but allowed a season-worst 35 points in the

fourth quarter and went 1 for 5 from the field in overtime to lose

for the fifth time in six games.

Despite its recent slide, Timberwolves coach Kurt Rambis remains

confident in his team’s ability to learn from its mistakes.

“It’s all part of it,” Rambis said. “It’s being able to be in

those situation multiple times over many years. … Guys just

didn’t have the poise and confidence to be able to make the right

decisions at the right times in crucial junctures of the

ballgame.”

Kevin Love, who is averaging 18.9 points and an NBA-best 14.5

rebounds, scored a season-high 32 and pulled down 22 boards against

the Spurs and has recorded four consecutive double-doubles versus

the Warriors.

Darko Milicic is averaging 22.0 points over his previous three

games after scoring 6.1 in his first 13, and knows Minnesota (4-12)

needs to come out more focused going forward.

“The few games that we lost, it kind of got in our heads,”

Milicic said. “We’re thinking too much. We’re just not enjoying

playing basketball in the fourth quarter. It’s kind of like we’re

scared to win. I don’t know why. We’re up 20, just keep

playing.”

The Warriors (7-9) received some good news Friday as David Lee,

who is averaging 14.3 points and a team-best 11.3 rebounds, was

cleared to return after two elbow operations. He is considered a

game-time decision versus Minnesota.

Lee, who has averaged 12.3 points over 10 games against the

Timberwolves, suffered a lacerated elbow against the New York

Knicks on Nov. 10, and has missed the previous eight games, over

which Golden State has gone 1-7.

“We’ll look forward to seeing him and that happy face and the

personality he brings to this team,” Warriors coach Keith Smart

said before Friday night’s 116-111 loss to Memphis. “The good

players figure out a way to do something in the little bit of time

until they know their bodies are catching up with what their minds

want to do.”

Andris Biedrins recorded season highs of 28 points and 21

rebounds as Golden State fell to 2-7 on the road, where it is

averaging 97.1 points compared to 107.1 at home.

“We had a real good opportunity to win this game, and we just

had a couple of mental mistakes that we shouldn’t do,” Biedrins

said.

Monta Ellis leads the team with 24.9 points per game but has

been held to 15.6 against the Timberwolves over his career.

Golden State has allowed 115.0 points per game over its

season-worst five-game losing streak.

The Warriors have won five of six at Minnesota.