Timberwolves-Bobcats Preview

The Associated Press

Despite their poor history in Charlotte, the Minnesota Timberwolves hope facing the lowly Bobcats will help prevent their current rough stretch from lingering.

The Timberwolves look to bounce back from their latest defeat and avoid a fifth consecutive road loss to the Bobcats on Wednesday night.

Minnesota (24-27) won three of its first four games in March, but has since dropped eight of 11 to fall outside the playoff picture in the Western Conference. The Timberwolves' recent struggles on the road have played a big part in that dismal stretch.

Kevin Love had 28 points and 11 rebounds Tuesday but Minnesota shot 38.8 percent while losing for the sixth time in seven games away from the Target Center, 93-86 at Memphis.

The Timberwolves continue to play short-handed with improving center Nikola Pekovic likely to miss a fifth straight game with bone spurs in his ankle and backup guard J.J. Barea his third in a row because of a thigh contusion. Star rookie Ricky Rubio is already lost for the season after undergoing knee surgery.

"(The guys in uniform are) all we've got right now," Love said. "I know other guys need to step up and play as hard as they can. We're definitely finding out about ourselves."

Though they held the Grizzlies to 0-for-11 shooting from 3-point range, the banged-up Timberwolves are giving up 110.6 points per contest during their last seven road games.

Minnesota is 1-6 all-time on the road against the Bobcats, allowing an average of 110.5 points during a four-game losing streak in Charlotte.

Despite their recent woes and their historical problems in Charlotte, the Timberwolves should still feel good about their chances Wednesday against a Bobcats team that is 4-18 at home this season. Love scored 30 points and pulled down 18 rebounds to help Minnesota snap a four-game overall losing streak to Charlotte (7-40) with a 102-90 home victory Feb. 15.

Averaging 30.6 points in 14 games this month, Love has totaled 65 and 33 boards in his last two against the Bobcats - both in Minnesota. He's been held to 11.7 points and 8.7 rebounds per contest in three career games at Charlotte.

The Bobcats' latest home defeat came Monday, 102-95 to Boston. Swingman Gerald Henderson scored 21 points, but Charlotte was unable to rally from a 33-15 deficit after the first quarter, losing its fourth in a row.

One bright spot was the Bobcats' bench, which outscored the Celtics' reserves 59-9. Backup center Byron Mullens had 18 points and Derrick Brown added 16 for Charlotte, which remains the only NBA team with fewer than 10 victories.

"We competed and this is the way it's going to be from here on out," coach Paul Silas said. "I told our guys prior to the game that we have to run, we have to push the ball up and we have to finish. This is the way we're going to play. We're going to give ourselves a chance to win."

Despite scoring seven points on 3-of-11 shooting in a 102-89 loss at New Jersey on Saturday, Henderson has averaged 19.0 on 60.3 percent shooting in his last five games.

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