Timberwolves-Grizzlies Preview

The Associated Press

The Memphis Grizzlies didn't end their road trip the way they would've liked, but returning home for a matchup with the Minnesota Timberwolves might be what they need to get back on track.

Memphis looks to win its eighth consecutive home game by earning a 10th straight victory over Minnesota on Monday night.

The Grizzlies (44-21) had won 14 of 15 and the first two of a four-game road trip before back-to-back to defeats to Denver on Friday and Utah on Saturday.

Jerryd Bayless scored 24 points off the bench while Zach Randolph added 19 and nine rebounds Saturday for Memphis, which shot just 38.9 percent over the two defeats.

''It's tough, but we have another game on Monday where we will be able to bounce back,'' said Bayless, who totaled 22 points and shot 28.6 percent over his previous three games. ''We wish we could have won, but at the same time it wasn't a bad road trip.''

The Grizzlies, who rank among the league leaders forcing 15.6 turnovers per game, forced a season-low six giveaways Saturday.

''That was a tough loss,'' coach Lionel Hollins said. ''They played with a lot of energy and we just didn't play smart down the stretch.''

Memphis, though, returns to the FedEx Forum where it has won seven straight and has held 32 of its 33 opponents to fewer than 100 points. It leads the NBA allowing only 89.4 points per game, and opponents during its home winning streak are shooting just 44.6 percent.

The Grizzlies have held the Timberwolves to an average of 86.8 points during their nine-game winning streak in the series, giving up more than 90 only once.

Minnesota is shooting a dismal 40.5 percent during that skid, but it hit 56.3 percent from the field - its second-best mark of the season - in Sunday's 97-95 home win over New Orleans.

Derrick Williams scored a career-high 28 points and Nikola Pekovic added 13 after missing the previous eight games with an abdominal strain. His two free throws with 15 seconds left put the Timberwolves (23-41) ahead to stay.

Williams is averaging 18.7 points over his last 12 games and is hitting 51.0 percent from the field in his past four. He was averaging 10.0 points and shooting 41.0 percent prior to his current run.

''I really feel like I'm getting a lot of my confidence back,'' Williams said. ''Not just shooting, just overall. A lot of people have a lot of faith in me as well.''

Andrei Kirilenko returned from a nine-game absence and blocked a potential game-tying shot with less than five seconds remaining. His and Pekovic's return helped a Minnesota team already missing Kevin Love due to a broken hand.

''We had energy at the end and that helped when we have more bodies,'' said Ricky Rubio, who finished with 16 points and six assists. ''We can be more aggressive and we don't run out of energy in the last quarter.''

The Timberwolves haven't won two straight since a season-best four-game winning streak from Dec. 7-15, and they'll likely have a tough time accomplishing the feat Monday.

Minnesota hasn't beaten the Grizzlies since Feb. 6, 2010, and its last victory in Memphis was Jan. 6, 2009.

Williams is averaging 8.8 points and shooting 34.8 percent in five career games against the Wolves.

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