In the final game of a miserable season, the Minnesota Timberwolves still have something to play for.
With a victory over the visiting Detroit Pistons on Wednesday, the Timberwolves would avoid matching the worst record in franchise history.
Minnesota (15-66) has arrived at this ignominious position with a woeful two-month stretch, losing 28 of its last 30 dating back to before the All-Star break. One more defeat would match the 1991-92 Timberwolves, who finished 15-67 in the club’s third season of play.
The young club doesn’t seemed primed for a victory after losing its last six, including the last two by an average of 25.0 points.
Minnesota, which is guaranteed to finish with the league’s second-worst record, allowed more than 130 points for the fifth time in a 133-111 defeat at San Antonio on Monday night.
“We’ve got one game left, and I hope for them to come out and give a positive showing. Leave with a good taste in their mouths for over the summer,” first-year Wolves coach Kurt Rambis said. “This team was not built to win this year. We knew that.”
The Wolves lost 108-85 at Detroit on Feb. 16, but the Pistons’ season has hardly been any more successful.
On the downswing after eight straight playoff appearances - including an NBA title in 2004 - the Pistons (26-55) will finish with their worst record since they went 20-62 in 1993-94.
“I don’t think that fired them up because they had something to play for,” Villanueva said. “I thought we would come ready to play, and I’m shocked we didn’t after the way we’ve played lately.”
Although the Pistons have won their last four trips to Minnesota, those were all more competitive teams. This season’s club has gone 9-31 on the road, including 2-12 at Western Conference opponents.
Going into the summer, Detroit will be reminded of one of the franchise’s major missteps. Darko Milicic(notes), whom the Pistons chose with the No. 2 pick of the 2003 draft, has been trying to salvage his NBA career as Minnesota’s starting center.