Timberwolves-Nuggets Preview

The Associated Press

The scuffling Minnesota Timberwolves' postseason hopes appear to have all but faded.

Visiting the Denver Nuggets doesn't seem likely to help their cause.

Hoping to snap its season-worst losing streak, Minnesota tries to avoid a 10th defeat in 11 trips to Denver on Wednesday night.

The deflated Timberwolves (25-33) looked like contenders a little over a month ago but have since dropped 14 of 18 and into 12th place in the West. They've been outscored by an average of 13.0 points during a six-game skid - their longest since closing the 2010-11 schedule with 15 consecutive defeats.

"We just need to go down swinging, have fun with the game, live in the present," said Kevin Love, who had 25 points and 13 rebounds during Monday's 114-90 loss to Phoenix. "We can't go out like this ... It's hard to be out there and see that there's no energy."

Minnesota gave up a season-high point total for regulation and allowed the Suns to shoot 57.3 percent - the highest mark it's surrendered since December 2010. The Timberwolves have allowed an average of 109.0 points in five games this month.

"(Defense) has to be on all the time, 48 minutes," Martell Webster told the team's official website. "We showed spurts of it, but that will never win you games, that will never get you into the postseason."

The Timberwolves remain a handful of games out of the playoff picture with just eight to go, and coach Rick Adelman is hoping his team isn't headed for another disastrous finish.

"I just told them, 'How do you want to finish the season? Every team we play is playing for something. We've got to respond," Adelman said.

"We have to find it. The coaches, the players, everybody. The season's not over, and we have to understand that."

Getting back on track at the Pepsi Center could prove difficult. Minnesota has lost four straight and nine of 10 at Denver (31-26), including a 103-101 overtime defeat Feb. 20. The Nuggets are 10-5 at home over the past two months, with only one loss coming to a sub-.500 team.

The Timberwolves, though, took the most recent matchup 117-100 on March 25 behind 30 points and 21 boards from Love.

Leading the league with 48 double-doubles, Love could be in for a battle down low with Nuggets rookie Kenneth Faried. The 22nd overall pick out of Morehead State posted season highs of 27 points and 17 rebounds Monday as Denver defeated visiting Golden State 123-84 to split a home-and-home set with the Warriors.

"All I know is, he was the guy with the biggest motor," Warriors coach Mark Jackson told the Nuggets' official website. "He was probably on a different level than anyone on the floor and he set the tone."

The Nuggets also received a boost from Danilo Gallinari, who scored 15 points to go along with six assists and five rebounds in his first game after missing 10 with a broken left thumb.

"Coming back this way was very important for us," Gallinari said. "It builds confidence. We know all these games are very important. We have four home games (remaining). ... If we get all of them, we have a really good chance to stay in a good position in the playoffs."

Winner of three in a row at home, Denver is one of five teams within 2 1/2 games of each other battling for the final three playoff seeds in the West.

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