Timberwolves-Knicks Preview

The Associated Press

Shutting down one of the NBA's elite players put the Minnesota Timberwolves on the cusp of their best start in 12 years.

Another strong defensive effort against last season's scoring champion should be enough to achieve that feat.

Two days after bottling up Kevin Durant, the Timberwolves will look to shut down Carmelo Anthony and end a four-game slide against the New York Knicks on Sunday night at Madison Square Garden.

Minnesota (2-0) turned in an impressive performance in Friday's 100-81 victory over Oklahoma City, holding the Thunder to 34.9-percent shooting - including 7 for 31 from beyond the arc - and forcing 21 turnovers with 14 steals.

The defense was particularly strong versus Durant. The three-time scoring champion hit only four of his 11 shots and went 1 for 5 from 3-point range to finish with 13 points.

The Timberwolves' outstanding defensive display came two days after they opened the season with a 120-115 overtime win over Orlando.

"We can be very good," forward Kevin Love said of the defense. "We can be very good. But I've learned not to look too far into the future. I just want to take it day by day."

He doesn't have to look too far ahead for the next task with Minnesota seeking its best start since opening 6-0 in 2001-02.

To get there the Timberwolves will have to beat the Knicks (1-1) at MSG for the first time in four visits. Minnesota has struggled defensively against New York, surrendering an average of 103.8 points over the past four meetings.

Anthony has a combined 69 points over the last two matchups. The star forward, last season's NBA leader with 28.7 points per game, has averaged 31.6 over his last five home games against the Wolves.

Anthony, though, fell well short of those numbers Thursday and missed a long jumper as time expired in a 82-81 loss at Chicago.

"I got the look I wanted," said Anthony, who finished with 22 points, six rebounds, six assists and six steals.

The Knicks need to show some improvement from the field after making 36.0 percent of their shots against the Bulls a day after sinking 50.7 percent in a 90-83 home win over Milwaukee. They've shot 48.1 percent over the last four meetings with Minnesota.

Amare Stoudemire could make his Garden debut after scoring five points in a limited role off the bench Thursday. The forward is still recovering from minor knee surgery after various injuries limited him to 29 games in 2012-13.

"Very pleased with how I felt (Thursday), as far as my body," Stoudemire said. "Just going to continue to keep building and keep getting better."

Love, who had 24 points and 12 rebounds Friday, has missed the last two meetings with the Knicks after averaging 32.0 points and 22.3 boards over the previous three.

He had a career-high 31 boards with 31 points in the Timberwolves' last victory over New York on Nov. 12, 2010.

The Timberwolves will be without Ronny Turiaf, who is out indefinitely with a fractured right elbow suffered in the second quarter Friday. The reserve center was slated to make his first appearance at MSG since the Knicks traded him in December 2011 in the three-team deal that brought Tyson Chandler to New York.

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