New York (27-37) at Minnesota (19-45)

Fair Currently: Minneapolis, MN
Temp: 55° F
  • Game info: 8:00 pm EDT Fri Mar 13, 2009
  • TV: MSG
Preview | Box Score | Recap

After rallying to wins in their last two games against a pair of teams in playoff position, the New York Knicks hope to capitalize on a meeting with one of the league’s struggling clubs.

The Knicks continue their five-game road trip Friday night against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

New York (27-37) overcame a 12-point deficit in the fourth quarter Wednesday to beat Detroit 116-111 in overtime. That performance came a night after the Knicks rallied from nine down at halftime in a 120-112 win over Milwaukee. They opened the trip with a 106-101 loss to New Jersey on Sunday.

“That’s two nights in a row that we’ve been able to turn up the screws a bit in the second half,” said coach Mike D’Antoni, whose team had dropped 12 of 16 before the back-to-back wins. “This one was against a really good team.

“It looked like we had no hope, but now we have a little hope. We just have to keep up this intensity and keep playing this way.”

The Knicks, owners of a 9-22 road record, are 13th in the Eastern Conference, but they’re only 1 1/2 games behind the eighth-place Bucks for the final playoff position. They close out their trip against East-leading Cleveland on Sunday.

Nate Robinson has been key over the last two games, going 19-for-39 (48.7 percent) from the floor to total 62 points with 13 assists. The reserve guard has been outstanding late in those contests, amassing 27 of those points in the fourth quarter and overtime.

Robinson is second on New York with 18.1 points and 4.0 assists per game - both career highs. He put up 26 points and tied a career high with 10 rebounds in a 120-107 loss to Minnesota (19-45) on Dec. 26.

The Knicks have dropped 12 of their last 15 against the Timberwolves, who are 11th in the West and have been eliminated from playoff contention.

The Wolves, though, are looking to build on Wednesday’s 104-79 win over Memphis that snapped a 10-game losing streak.

“It was important to make some shots and have something happen to us in a positive way,” coach Kevin McHale said. “We haven’t had a lot of positive happen lately.”

One of those positive developments for the Wolves lately has been the improved play of rookie Kevin Love, who was acquired by McHale with swingman Mike Miller in a draft-day trade from Memphis for O.J. Mayo.

Love is averaging 15.4 points and 11.4 rebounds over the last five games, including 19 and 11 on Wednesday. That strong stretch has increased his season averages to 10.2 points and 8.9 rebounds, and is a vast improvement from the dismal start to his NBA career when he averaged 7.6 points and 7.7 boards over his first 31 games.

“It feels great. I’ve got to keep continuing to improve,” Love said. “The fact that I have 20 double-doubles with how I started off, for me I’m not trying to hype myself up, but that’s pretty impressive.”

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Friday, Mar 13