Wizards-Timberwolves Preview

The Washington Wizards are on the brink of their longest road

winning streak in nearly six years, though they haven’t had much

success in Minnesota.

That could change if they continue their scoring surge against

the defensively-challenged Timberwolves.

Washington will try to earn a sweep of its four-game trip Friday

night by winning for only the third time in its last 13 games in

Minneapolis.

The Wizards (12-13) matched a season high with four consecutive

losses prior to heading out on the road, but they’ve managed to

turn things around during this swing.

After Bradley Beal hit a go-ahead layup with six seconds left in

a 102-101 win in New York on Dec. 16, Washington pulled out a

113-107 victory across the river in Brooklyn on Dec. 18 and a

106-99 win at Boston on Saturday. Trevor Ariza poured in a

game-high 27 points to help the Wizards rally from an 18-point

deficit against the Celtics.

“We don’t let anything rattle us too much,” said Ariza, who

missed a 104-100 home win over Minnesota on Nov. 19 due to a

sprained right hamstring. “We just play and chip away and know

things are going to happen.”

Since averaging 95.3 points on 43.1 percent shooting while

dropping eight of their first 11 on the road, the Wizards have

scored 107.0 per game with a 47.8 field-goal percentage – including

31 of 59 from 3-point range – in their last three.

They should be able to continue that production against

Minnesota, which ranks near the bottom of the league in defensive

scoring (102.7) and field-goal percentage (47.5).

John Wall has played well on the trip, averaging 20.3 points on

45.1 percent shooting. He had scored 13.3 per game and shot 31.5

percent in his previous three away from home.

Wall finished with 14 points on 5-of-17 shooting but matched a

career high with 16 assists in the first meeting with Minnesota.

Beal had 25 points, while former Wolves player Martell Webster

added 17 with nine rebounds and five 3-pointers.

With a rare road victory in this series, the Wizards can win

four straight away from home for the first time since the 2007-08

season. They haven’t won in Minnesota since March 9, 2009, dropping

their last three games there.

The Timberwolves (13-15) are seeking their third consecutive

home win and ninth in 13 games, though they’ve lost two straight

and four of six overall following Sunday’s 120-116 overtime loss to

the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center.

Leading by four with 18 seconds left in regulation, Minnesota

couldn’t hold on after Kevin Martin committed a huge turnover and

the Clippers’ Jamal Crawford sank a pair of clutch baskets to force

overtime.

“We just played so hard for something like that to go down,”

said Martin, who had 16 points but only has two 3-pointers in his

last four. “But we’ll bounce back from it.”

Kevin Love did his part with a season-high 45 points while tying

a season best with 19 rebounds. Since missing one game due to

personal reasons, he’s averaged 31.3 points and gone 27 of 60 from

3-point range over his last eight.

Love has posted a double-double in all eight career meetings

with the Wizards after finishing with 25 points, 11 rebounds and

four 3s in last month’s loss.

Nikola Pekovic had a career-high 34 points with 14 boards

Sunday, though he missed a couple big shots at the end of

regulation and overtime. He’s averaged 28.7 points and 12.0

rebounds in his last three contests.