It’s been almost two years since the Minnesota Timberwolves last won three straight.
Hoping to accomplish that minor feat, the Timberwolves face another struggling franchise on Tuesday when they visit the Memphis Grizzlies, who are coming off arguably their most impressive win of the season.
Minnesota (8-26) last won three in a row Jan. 12-15, 2007 - a streak that began with a win at Memphis (11-23). Since then, the Timberwolves have won back-to-back games eight times, including - for the first time this season - victories over Golden State and Chicago over the weekend.
After a 115-108 win over the Warriors on Friday night, Minnesota beat the Bulls 102-92 on Saturday in Chicago as Randy Foye scored 21 points. Al Jefferson had double-doubles in both games, totaling 50 points and 24 rebounds.
“It took us to wait until we got to the New Year to get it,” Jefferson said of winning consecutive games for the first time this season. “Hopefully we’ll keep this thing going.”
Foye, Minnesota’s second-leading scorer at 14.7 points per game, has averaged 18.7 in the last three while going 7-of-12 from 3-point range.
The third-year guard has helped the Timberwolves go 4-2 since losing 13 in a row.
“The guys have to learn how to win a little bit,” coach Kevin McHale said. “You get a group of young guys and you’ll see some interesting stuff happen.”
Since the start of the 2006-07 season, the Timberwolves have a better winning percentage than only two teams—Oklahoma City and the Grizzlies (55-143).
Memphis, though, is coming off its most lopsided win of the season on Sunday, 102-82 over a Dallas team which entered with an 18-5 record since Nov. 15. The Grizzlies snapped a four-game losing streak and won for only the second time in 10 games.
“Down the stretch, we really buckled down, especially defensively,” said Memphis reserve Hakim Warrick, who had 18 points. “The open shots they got, we just ran them off, and made them work a little bit harder.”
Mayo, who leads the Grizzlies with 19.7 points per game, had scored 12 points in each of Memphis’ previous two losses. The rookie guard was 10-of-34 (29.4 percent) from the field in those games but on Sunday was 7-of-14, including 5-of-8 from 3-point range.
“O.J. had a good game from three, and that happens to be a big part of our success,” coach Marc Iavaroni said. “It makes everything better confidence-wise and efficiency-wise.”
Iavaroni’s team was 7-of-15 from beyond the arc Sunday after going 17-for-69 (24.6 percent) in its previous five games.
Minnesota has won three of four versus Memphis, including a 108-98 overtime victory on Dec. 29 in the only matchup this season. Jefferson had 38 points and 16 rebounds.