Almost certain to miss the playoffs for the first time in nine years, the Minnesota Timberwolves hope to rebound from their most embarrassing loss of the season when they host the Golden State Warriors.
Needing to win nearly all of their remaining games to have a chance at the playoffs, the Timberwolves were unable to beat the team with the league’s worst record as they lost 105-98 at Atlanta on Saturday.
Minnesota will be officially eliminated from postseason contention with its next loss or any win by Memphis, which has five games remaining.
Missing the playoffs for the first time since 1995-96 will be a huge disappointment for the Timberwolves after they had the best record in the West last season and advanced to the conference finals.
Wolves star forward Kevin Garnett said his team won’t quit on the season.
“You get paid for 82 games, you play 82 games,” he said after the Atlanta loss.
Despite 31 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists from Garnett, who had his league-leading 67th double-double, Minnesota helped Atlanta end a 14-game losing streak by blowing a nine-point lead late in the third quarter.
“Tonight’s game is a microcosm of our year,” Minnesota coach Kevin McHale said. “We went out there and played good for a while, and then we decided, ‘Well, it’s time for me to get mine.’ Selfish, selfish, selfish, on both ends of the floor, defensively and offensively.”
While Garnett has been doing his share, he hasn’t gotten enough help from his teammates lately, particularly forward Latrell Sprewell. Sprewell is shooting just 39.0 percent (25-of-64) in five games this month.
Golden State, already eliminated from the playoffs, has lost its last two games after winning a season-best eight in a row and 11 of 12.
Coming off a double-overtime loss at San Antonio on Sunday, the Warriors faltered in the second half in a 122-106 loss Monday at Denver.
“The guys were tired today,” said Davis, averaging 28.6 points in his last five games. “We got ourselves back in the ball game, but that’s what happens when you come on the road and play in a hostile environment, you have to play above average, and we just played average today.”
A victory Wednesday would give the Warriors their first win in a season series against the Timberwolves since 1995-96.
STANDINGS (through April 11): Warriors - 5th place, 27 1/2 GB, Pacific Division. Timberwolves - 3rd place, 10 GB, Northwest Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Warriors - Richardson, 22.1 ppg; Murphy, 10.9 rpg; Davis, 7.6 apg. Timberwolves - Garnett, 22.4 ppg, 13.8 rpg and 5.6 apg.
SEASON SERIES: Tied, 1-1.
LAST MEETING: March 2; Warriors, 99-93. At Minneapolis, Derek Fisher had 23 points and nine assists as Golden State overcame an 11-point third-quarter deficit.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Warriors - 14-26 on the road; Timberwolves - 22-16 at home.