Since winning a franchise-best six in a row, the Charlotte Bobcats have dropped back-to-back contests against Western Conference powers.
A game against one of the league’s worst teams should help them get back on track.
On Saturday night, the Bobcats look for their fifth consecutive victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves, who are trying to avoid losing for the 12th time in 13 games.
After averaging 103.0 points on 51.3 percent shooting during its winning streak, Charlotte’s offense has sputtered recently.
The Bobcats (28-37) shot 42.5 percent from the floor in Friday’s 91-86 loss to Houston after making 44.1 percent of their shots in a 100-86 loss at San Antonio on Tuesday.
Still, Charlotte had a chance to beat the Rockets. Raja Bell’s jumper gave the Bobcats a one-point lead with 34 seconds left, but Houston went on to score the game’s final six points.
The loss is especially tough for a Bobcats team seeking the first playoff berth in their five-year franchise history. Charlotte is tied for 10th in the East, but just one-half game out of eighth.
“I think we played the way we were playing when we went on that six-game streak,” said guard Raymond Felton, who had 12 points on 6-for-19 shooting. “The ball just wouldn’t fall in the basket for us.”
While Charlotte’s offense is mired in a bit of a funk, it should be able to get back on track against Minnesota (19-46), which owns the league’s seventh-worst scoring defense (103.4).
The Bobcats are averaging 107.5 points on 50.3 percent shooting during their four-game winning streak over the Timberwolves. Charlotte, which has not lost to Minnesota since a 102-96 setback on Jan. 1, 2007, won 100-90 on Dec. 1 in the first meeting of the season.
Felton had 14 points and a season-high 14 assists for his third straight double-double against the Timberwolves. Emeka Okafor also scored 24 points, pulled down 10 rebounds and had a season-high five blocked shots in that game, and is averaging 18.8 points on 66.7 percent shooting with 11.8 boards during the winning streak over the Wolves.
But Okafor didn’t have much luck against Yao Ming on Friday, finishing with eight points on just 3-of-11 shooting.
Minnesota is coming off a 102-94 loss to the New York Knicks on Friday after Wednesday’s 104-79 rout of Memphis snapped a 10-game losing streak.
The Timberwolves dropped to 2-13 since leading scorer Al Jefferson suffered a season-ending right ACL injury.
In addition to Jefferson, Randy Foye (ankle) and Rodney Carney (abdomen) missed their second straight game Friday, while Jason Collins was too sick to come to the arena. Kevin Ollie also wasn’t available as he was tending to a health issue in his family.
“Before the game we were standing out there when we meet up and huddle as players and we were like, ‘Are you sure this is all we got?”’ said Ryan Gomes, who matched his season high with 28 points and is averaging 23.8 points - 10.4 better than his season average - in his last five games.
Foye, Minnesota’s leading scorer (16.9) since Jefferson’s injury, could return Saturday. He had 23 points against the Bobcats earlier this season.