The Minnesota Timberwolves are six games below .500, but aren’t ready to count themselves out of the playoff race yet.
The Timberwolves try to build on the momentum of their last win when they return from the All-Star break to face the Washington Wizards.
Despite an 11-23 record since Dec. 11, the Timberwolves are only four games behind the Denver Nuggets for the Northwest Division lead, and three games behind the Los Angeles Lakers for the final Western Conference playoff spot.
The Timberwolves on Friday face the Nuggets at the Target Center.
“There’s plenty of time,” said Timberwolves center Mark Madsen. “There’s no more excuses for this group.”
The no-excuses attitude appeared to help last Wednesday when Minnesota snapped a four-game home losing streak with a 102-92 victory over Seattle.
“Let me tell y’all something: Even though we’ve been losing and gone through some difficult times, man, we continue to keep our morale up,” said Garnett, who had two points and nine rebounds as Minnesota’s lone representative in Sunday’s All-Star game. “Our confidence has always been high.”
The Timberwolves are still searching for an identity after a seven-player trade with Boston brought four new players to the starting rotation on Jan. 26.
“I’m very encouraged,” Casey said. “If you put a 15-year coach in this situation, they probably wouldn’t be as patient, but I understand that … it takes time.”
Facing Washington could be the boost the Timberwolves need. Minnesota has won eight of its last nine meetings with the Wizards.
Washington lost its last two games entering the break after a season-high five-game winning streak.
The Wizards fell 103-97 to Dallas last Wednesday as All-Star Gilbert Arenas struggled to find the basket. Arenas scored just 12 points on 4-of-22 shooting.
“That was difficult. I just tried to play my game and go inside,” said Arenas, who finished with his third-lowest total this season, nearly 17 points below his season average. “It was kind of frustrating, driving in and getting hit. I didn’t hear any whistle.”
Arenas remained cold in the All-Star game, scoring one point and missing all four of his field goal attempts.