Atlanta (19-7) at Minnesota (5-23)

Cloudy Currently: Minneapolis, MN
Temp: 30° F
  • Game info: 8:00 pm EST Tue Dec 22, 2009
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The Atlanta Hawks’ high-powered offense came out a bit flat its last time out. A game against the defensively challenged Minnesota Timberwolves might be what it needs to get back on track.

Looking to bounce back from their first loss in two weeks, the Hawks try to beat the Timberwolves for a seventh straight time as they meet Tuesday night at the Target Center.

Atlanta (19-7) is fourth in the NBA in scoring at 105.3 points per game, but was limited to 92 through the end of regulation in Saturday’s 101-98 overtime loss to Chicago. The Hawks had averaged 113.0 points in their previous five games, and the defeat was the team’s first since a 114-107 loss to New York on Dec. 4.

Joe Johnson(notes) did his best to carry Atlanta against the Bulls, scoring a season-best 40 on 16-of-32 shooting, but the rest of the team was just 20 of 55 (36.4 percent) from the floor.

“I just think we got stagnant,” coach Mike Woodson said. “We started looking to Joe too much. He bailed us out the whole game. We just didn’t have it then down the stretch.”

The Hawks, who haven’t lost back-to-back games since Nov. 21 and 26, hope their offense can return to form against a Minnesota team that struggles on the defensive end.

The Timberwolves (5-23) are allowing an average of 105.0 points, and have let three of their last five opponents score at least 120.

In Sunday’s 122-104 loss at Boston, Minnesota allowed the Celtics to shoot 51.9 percent. The Wolves fell behind by 15 in the first quarter and went into the half trailing 66-41.

“I hope it teaches us a lesson that we were lethargic in the first half. We didn’t play with any energy,” Minnesota coach Kurt Rambis said. “It’s very, very tough to try and come back in a ballgame. That’s why you don’t want to get down to anybody.”

Atlanta’s offense had little trouble against the Wolves last season, averaging 101.5 points on 51.6 percent shooting in the two meetings. The Hawks have won six straight over Minnesota since an 84-83 loss at the Target Center on April 9, 2006.

Mike Bibby(notes) led the way for Atlanta last season against the Wolves, averaging 22.0 points and 8.0 assists.

Johnson, who is scoring a team-high 21.5 per game, is averaging 27.0 points and 6.5 assists in his last two games at Minnesota.

The Timberwolves own the worst record in the Western Conference, but two of their youngest players are providing hope for the future.

Rookie Jonny Flynn(notes) scored 21 points Sunday, while second-year forward Kevin Love(notes) is averaging 18.0 points and 13.0 rebounds in his last three games.

Love has eight double-doubles in 10 games this season after missing the first month with a fractured left hand, and averaged 16.5 points and 10.0 boards in two games against the Hawks last season.

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Tuesday, Dec 22