Timberwolves-Jazz Preview

The Associated Press

Kevin Love has been on a torrid run in March and the Minnesota Timberwolves will need of more of that from him as they press on without Ricky Rubio.

Love and the Timberwolves continue a seven-game road trip Thursday night against the Utah Jazz.

With Rubio out for the season with a torn ACL, Minnesota's chances of making the playoffs rest primarily on keeping Love healthy and productive.

While Love missed last Friday's game against the Los Angeles Lakers with back problems, he continued his hot stretch during the next two games. Love scored 31 points in Sunday's loss to New Orleans - the team's first without Rubio - and had 30 in a 127-124 win over Phoenix on Monday.

The Suns were ahead by five with 6:10 remaining, but Love scored 13 points in the fourth quarter while going 3 of 5 from 3-point range to help Minnesota (22-21) win the opener of its longest road trip of the season.

"The biggest thing for me is I didn't get a good warm up," said Love, who set a franchise mark with his 15th 30-point game of the season. "I had good looks in the first half but the ball never really felt right in my hand. I decided to get my legs under me in the second half and that was the biggest difference."

Love is leading the NBA with 32.3 points in six games this month - up from his season average of 25.7 points.

However, Love has been held below his scoring and rebounding averages in both meetings with Utah this season. He had 15 points and eight boards in a 108-98 loss in Salt Lake City on Jan. 21 and scored a season low-tying 10 with 10 rebounds in a 100-98 win at home Feb. 22.

Despite Rubio's absence, Minnesota scored its most points of the season in its last game. That may not be good news for the Jazz (20-22), who are coming off a poor defensive effort in a 120-111 loss at Phoenix on Wednesday.

Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson each scored 18 points, but Utah couldn't slow the Suns, who shot 56.4 percent overall and hit nine 3-pointers.

"We couldn't get over the hump,'' coach Tyrone Corbin said. ''We didn't get the break we needed, but we have another one tomorrow.''

The Jazz have lost three of four, but will play their next two at home, where they have won three straight and are 15-6.

While Utah has allowed at least 104 points in its last three road losses, the Jazz are giving up 93.9 points at home this season, including 90.3 in the last three contests there.

Minnesota has struggled to contain Utah's frontcourt. Millsap has averaged 25.5 points and 9.0 rebounds while Jefferson has added 18.0 points and 11.5 rebounds per game in two meetings this season.

The Jazz have won four straight at home against the Timberwolves.

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