Timberwolves-Hornets Preview

The Associated Press

Fading out of playoff contention in the Western Conference, the banged-up Minnesota Timberwolves are looking for anything positive to help them get back on track.

A visit to New Orleans might be what they need.

Looking to avoid a season-high fifth consecutive defeat, the Timberwolves try to take advantage of a matchup with the conference-worst Hornets on Saturday night.

Without key contributors Ricky Rubio (torn ACL), Michael Beasley (toe) and Luke Ridnour (ankle), Minnesota (25-31) fell 97-94 at home to Golden State on Wednesday. Losers of 20 straight April games dating to the 2008-09 season, the Timberwolves have dropped 12 of 16 overall since losing Rubio for the season.

The Timberwolves have shot 43.0 percent and are allowing an average of 108.0 points during their four-game losing streak.

"It's effort,'' coach Rick Adelman said. "If things start turning a little bit south on you and you're just going to quit at that end, you're never going to win. You're never going to change the mentality.''

With 29 points and 12 rebounds in 43 minutes Wednesday, All-Star Kevin Love continues to carry the Timberwolves, who committed 19 turnovers against the Warriors.

"It's tough to try and play Superman every night,'' said Love, who is putting up 26.5 points and 13.6 rebounds per game while averaging a career-high 39.7 minutes this season.

Averaging 31.1 points in his last eight games overall, Love has totaled 65 points and 31 rebounds in two meetings with the Hornets (14-41) this season, which the teams have split. He had 34 points and 15 rebounds in an 87-80 victory at New Orleans on Jan. 13.

That was the second straight road win in this series for the Timberwolves, but they've dropped their last two and eight of 10 away from home overall.

The Hornets have won two of three at home, but are coming off a 128-103 loss at San Antonio on Friday. The Spurs shot 60.7 percent, including 9 of 18 from 3-point range.

"We couldn't guard a bike if we were riding it," New Orleans coach Monty Williams said. "It was unpleasant to watch. I told them 'if you're going to play that way, you're going to (be) embarrassed.'''

In just his fourth game of the season, guard Eric Gordon had 31 points and shot 11 of 19 against the Spurs. It came two nights after he scored 15 in 33 minutes of a 94-92 home win over Denver - his first game after missing 47 in a row with a knee injury.

Gordon is averaging 23.2 points and shooting 50.7 percent in nine career games versus Minnesota.

Teammate Chris Kaman was held to two points against the Timberwolves at home earlier this season and eight with one rebound Friday against the Spurs, but he scored 20 in New Orleans' 95-89 victory at Minnesota on March 10.

Hornets guard Jarrett Jack, averaging career highs of 15.6 points and 6.3 assists, is likely to miss his third straight game with a foot injury.

"I think it's one of those things that may take some time to heal,'' Williams said.

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