Back home following their worst defeat of the season, the Memphis Grizzlies will try to snap a seven-game losing streak Saturday night.
Facing a Minnesota Timberwolves team that’s dropped nine in a row could help.
Looking to avoid its worst start since opening 0-13 in 2002-03, Memphis (1-8) returns to FedEx Forum for a two-game homestand following Wednesday’s 104-79 loss at Houston.
The Grizzlies trailed by five at halftime but were outscored 31-19 in the third quarter en route to their seventh straight loss since a 115-107 victory over Toronto on Oct. 30.
“(The Rockets) did everything they wanted to do to get the win,” coach Lionel Hollins said following his team’s most lopsided loss since falling by an identical score at Minnesota on March 11. “Their will was stronger than our will.”
Memphis lost all three meetings with the Timberwolves in 2008-09 and four straight to them since a 113-101 victory in Minneapolis on April 6, 2008.
With 24 wins or fewer the past three seasons, the Grizzlies were hoping to get a boost with the offseason signing of Allen Iverson(notes), but the 10-time All-Star guard, who averaged 12.3 points in three games as a reserve with his new club, has missed the last three games due to “personal reasons.”
The team has not announced when, or if, Iverson will return.
Memphis, though, may have Hasheem Thabeet(notes) available Saturday after the rookie center had a ridgeline fracture in his jaw repaired Wednesday. The second overall pick in the 2009 draft was injured in Tuesday’s 93-79 loss to Portland following a collision with teammate Zach Randolph(notes).
The extra help up front could be a boost against Minnesota, which will be without forward Al Jefferson(notes) for the second straight game. Jefferson, who leads the Timberwolves (1-9) with 15.1 points per game, missed Friday’s 89-77 loss to Dallas due to the death of his grandmother on Thursday.
“(The Mavericks) came out determined at the start of the third quarter and then after Ryan got ejected, they went on these runs,” said Timberwolves first-year coach Kurt Rambis, whose team has lost nine straight since a season-opening victory over New Jersey on Oct. 28. “This team is just not experienced enough to control those situations.”
Rookie point guard Jonny Flynn(notes) had 11 points and Ryan Gomes(notes), Nathan Jawai(notes) and Corey Brewer(notes) added 10 apiece as Minnesota missed 14 of 17 3-point attempts and shot a season-low 32.6 percent from the field.
The Timberwolves will look to improve that effort against the Grizzlies, who have one of the league’s worst defenses - allowing 111.1 points per game with opponents shooting 50.0 percent.
The Timberwolves look to avoid their second consecutive 0-5 start on the road.