Jazz-Timberwolves Preview

The Associated Press

The road hasn't been kind to the Utah Jazz all season, but their struggles defensively have made it especially unfriendly lately.

Perhaps the Jazz can carry over the momentum from an impressive home win in their last game.

Utah will try to avoid its fourth straight road loss on Wednesday night when it visits the injury-plagued Minnesota Timberwolves, who managed to pick up an elusive victory in their last game.

The Jazz (29-24) stopped a two-game skid and won for the 11th time in 13 home games with a 109-94 victory on Tuesday over an Oklahoma City team that had won four straight by 20 or more points.

"I think that was the biggest game of the year for us, especially coming off two losses,'' guard Earl Watson said.

Utah, however, hasn't matched that success on the road. The Jazz have lost 18 of 27 away from Salt Lake City, including three in a row after a 120-109 defeat at Sacramento on Saturday.

After holding the Thunder - the NBA's top-scoring team - 12.4 points below their season average on Tuesday, Utah has given up just 88.2 points per game in its last five at home.

It's been a much different story away from home. They've allowed 109.0 points per game and 27-of-58 shooting (46.6 percent) from 3-point range during their road losing streak.

They'll try to tighten things up against a Minnesota team that had shot 5 for 29 from beyond the arc in its previous two contests before hitting 8 of 14 in a 100-92 win at Cleveland on Monday.

The Timberwolves (19-30) still have three starters out due to injury, and won for only the fourth time in 20 games since star forward Kevin Love went down with a broken right hand.

They've also lost six of seven at home, with three of the defeats by six or fewer points.

"It's been a long month for us,'' said guard Luke Ridnour, who had a team-high 21 points on Monday. "It's always tough. We're competitors. You want to win games. Losing, as much as you don't want to say it, takes a toll on you."

Ridnour has stepped up recently, averaging 19.3 points on 59.5 percent shooting in his last three games.

After a slow start in his return from a torn ACL, Ricky Rubio is starting to return to form with 16.0 points and 8.3 assists per game in his last three.

The Timberwolves shot 52.0 percent from the field against the Cavaliers, and hope to continue that efficiency on Wednesday after shooting a season-low 34.5 percent in a 106-84 loss at Utah on Jan. 2.

Utah big men Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, Marvin Williams and Enes Kanter combined for 52 points, and the Jazz outscored the Timberwolves 56-36 in the paint in the first meeting.

Jefferson and Millsap bounced back with a combined 41 points and 17 rebounds on Tuesday after totaling 22 and 11, respectively, against the Kings.

Millsap had averaged 23.5 points and 9.8 rebounds in his previous six games against Minnesota before finishing with 14 points and no rebounds in last month's meeting.

While the Jazz have won eight of 10 in the series, they've lost the last two in Minnesota.

What to Read Next