Bobcats-Timberwolves Preview

The Associated Press

The Charlotte Bobcats' franchise-record losing streak has coincided with injuries to key contributors.

The return of D.J. Augustin and a date with the struggling Minnesota Timberwolves could be exactly what they need to get on track.

Visiting Charlotte looks to end its 15-game skid by earning its fifth straight win over Minnesota when the teams meet Wednesday night.

Augustin has been out since injuring his toe Jan. 22, while Gerald Henderson has missed seven of the last 10 games while dealing with back and hamstring problems.

Corey Maggette - who missed 19 games from Jan. 6-Feb. 7 with a strained left hamstring - scored a season-high 22 points and rookie Kemba Walker added 21 on Monday, though they couldn't help prevent a 98-89 loss to Philadelphia.

Coach Paul Silas said Augustin will return Wednesday, and he's optimistic Henderson can be in the lineup by the end of the week.

''I keep saying that once we get everybody back, we're going to be good,'' said Silas, whose team is an NBA-worst 3-25. "If you give me back 15 (points) from D.J. Augustin and 15 from Gerald Henderson, that's 30 points we're missing. I think we'll be a lot better.''

Walker made his first career start in Charlotte's last victory, scoring a season-high 23 points a 112-100 win over Golden State on Jan. 14. He has started each game since, averaging 14.9 points.

''We had a better effort tonight,'' Maggette said Monday. ''Tonight, we played better and we actually had a chance. For us, that's a step in the right direction.''

Though the progress seems minimal, the Bobcats hope they've improved enough to beat Minnesota for the ninth time in 10 tries. The Timberwolves (13-16) suffered their fourth consecutive defeat Tuesday, 102-89 at Orlando.

Minnesota is much improved from last season's 17-win team, though coach Rick Adelman expects more.

"You've got to go out and play," Adelman said. "They're not going to stop this season because we've lost four in a row. We've been in games, but we just haven't been able to put one away."

Kevin Love has recorded a double-double in 25 of his 27 games after finishing with 19 points and 15 rebounds Tuesday. Minnesota's previous three losses had come by a combined 14 points.

"We just have to stay together and really have a sense of urgency to win," Love said. "We have to continue to build as a team and right now we're not doing that. Everybody, including myself, needs to step up. Coach Adelman and the coaching staff can only do so much. It's really on us to break the barrier and have a breakthrough with this team."

Love had 35 points and 14 rebounds while Michael Beasley added 28 and 12 in the most recent meeting with Charlotte on Jan. 5, 2011, but Augustin scored 16 points to lead the Bobcats to a 108-105 overtime win.

That was Love's only double-digit rebounding effort in six career games versus Charlotte.

Minnesota last beat the Bobcats 108-100 on March 14, 2009.

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