Bobcats-Timberwolves Preview


The Minnesota Timberwolves' strong start to the season is made even more impressive by the sheer number of injuries they've sustained.

They won't be getting any reinforcements Wednesday night, when they go for their best home start to a season in 10 years as they face the Charlotte Bobcats.

Minnesota (5-2) continues to be without stars Kevin Love (broken right hand) and Ricky Rubio (torn left ACL), who haven't played a game this season.

The Timberwolves are also dealing with injuries to forward Chase Budinger (left knee surgery), guard J.J. Barea (left foot sprain) and swingman Brandon Roy (sore right knee), and center Nikola Pekovic left Monday's 90-82 win at Dallas with a sprained left ankle after scoring 20 points.

"I don't know when it's going to stop," coach Rick Adelman said. "Hopefully we can get some guys back and maintain the same energy level we've had."

Adelman won't be getting any players back Wednesday. Pekovic, who leads the team with 15.3 points per game, has been ruled out along with Roy and Barea, leaving the team with nine healthy players.

The Timberwolves still have a chance to improve to 4-0 at home for the first time since 2002-03.

"I credit our character," said forward Andrei Kirilenko, who had 16 points and 11 rebounds Monday. "Nobody really looks down and nobody feels sorry. Everybody just keeps coming out and trying to give their best."

That effort has resulted in opponents averaging 88.4 points, and that shrinks to 83.0 at home.

Minnesota limited Charlotte (3-3) to 42.3 percent from the field in winning both meetings last season, including a 102-90 victory at home on Feb. 15.

Although the Bobcats have lost their first two road games, they did follow Saturday's 101-97 overtime win against the Mavericks with a 92-76 victory against winless Washington on Tuesday. They held the Wizards to 29.8 percent from the floor and 5 for 31 from 3-point range.

Now, Charlotte has a chance at its first three-game winning streak since a four-game run from March 25-30, 2011.

"Any time in this league when you can get any type of win streak it is good," said guard Ramon Sessions, who had 21 points Tuesday. "Definitely for a young team like us trying to build things, I think that's a big plus."

It took the Bobcats 30 games last year to get to four wins.

"Players gain confidence with victories," first-year coach Mike Dunlap said.

A third straight win would do wonders for Charlotte's confidence, but likely will need more from Kemba Walker to achieve that. The second-year guard has averaged 10.5 points in two road games compared to 22.5 in four at home.

He scored 21 on 9 of 17 from the field in the Bobcats' last visit to Minnesota, the first of his career.

It's unclear if Ben Gordon, averaging 14.6 points, will be available after he was a late scratch Tuesday due to a family emergency. He averages 19.0 points in six games at Target Center.