The Minnesota Timberwolves have struggled for much of their existence, but they’ve finished with sole possession of the NBA’s worst record only once.
The Timberwolves will need some help to avoid that fate this season, even if they snap a 14-game skid in Wednesday night’s finale against the visiting Houston Rockets.
It’s been almost two months since Minnesota (17-64) clinched its 14th losing campaign in 22 seasons and sixth in a row. The Timberwolves, though, had perhaps some solace in knowing that Cleveland’s struggles were even worse for much of this season.
That changed during Minnesota’s current slide, its longest since dropping 16 in a row while finishing 15-67 last season - matching the worst record in franchise history. The Timberwolves were also 15-67 in 1991-92, the only time they finished with the worst record in the league.
With Monday’s 135-127 overtime loss in Phoenix, Minnesota fell one game behind Cleveland for the NBA’s worst mark. The Cavaliers wrap up the season Wednesday with a visit from Washington, which is a league-worst 3-37 away from home.
Minnesota snapped a 13-game skid to Houston (42-39) with a 112-108 victory Feb. 8, but might not have its leading scorer and rebounder from that game. A groin injury has kept Kevin Love(notes), who had 20 points and 14 boards in the win, out for five straight and eight of the last 10 contests.
Love might have been able to help his team end its losing streak Monday. The Wolves had one of their best scoring efforts of the season but couldn’t hold on to a late six-point lead.
“It hurts,” Beasley said. “I could have won the game.”
The Rockets are out of the playoffs despite recording their fifth consecutive winning season.
“It just shows how every game could go either way,” center Chuck Hayes(notes) told the team’s official website. “Every game we’ve had, we’ve had our chances to win. Some we did, some we let slip away. … That’s a prime example of what our season has been like.”
Despite being eliminated, Rockets coach Rick Adelman said his team isn’t conceding anything to the Timberwolves.
“We are not going to cave in Minnesota,” he said. “Let’s finish this thing out and see if we can get a road win. That’s what it’s all about. Everybody’s getting paid here, you’re all professionals. Whether you get eliminated or not, that’s not who we are is (a team that) caves in to the situation.”
Houston is seeking its seventh consecutive victory at the Target Center.