Warriors-Timberwolves Preview

The Associated Press

The Minnesota Timberwolves and Golden State Warriors are in the process of falling completely out of playoff contention.

That trend will continue for one team Wednesday night when Minnesota looks to end another three-game slide by beating the visiting Warriors for the second time in just over two weeks.

The Timberwolves (25-30) have dropped 4 1/2 games behind Houston for the eighth and final playoff position in the Western Conference with a 4-11 stretch, which started with a home defeat to the Los Angeles Lakers on March 9. Star point guard Ricky Rubio was lost for the season in that game after tearing ligaments in his left knee.

Rubio was averaging 10.6 points and a team-leading 8.2 assists.

The Timberwolves' struggles continued with Monday's 116-108 loss at Sacramento. They were dealt another blow to the back court as Luke Ridnour sustained a sprained right ankle that is expected to keep him out for some time.

Minnesota is also dealing with injuries to guard J.J. Barea (thigh), forward Michael Beasley (toe) and center Darko Milicic (hamstring). Barea, averaging a career-high 9.6 points and 4.3 assists, could be available after sitting out six games.

"Everyone seems to be hurt right now and that's been tough for us," said forward-center Kevin Love, who had 23 points and seven rebounds against the Kings.

Love is certainly doing his part to make up for the absences, averaging 31.4 points and 13.1 boards over the past seven games. He had 36 points and 15 rebounds in a 97-93 road victory over Golden State (20-32) on March 19, ending Minnesota's three-game skid.

Love had 37 points and 23 boards in a 126-123 win over the Warriors in the teams' most recent meeting in Minnesota on Feb. 27, 2011.

Golden State has lost 11 of 13 since dealing Monta Ellis - the team leader with 21.9 points per game - to Milwaukee in a five-player trade March 14.

The Warriors have just about played themselves out of playoff contention with a season-high six-game losing streak, falling eight games behind Houston.

That skid continued with Tuesday's 98-94 loss at Memphis. Golden State, which started three rookies, led by 12 early in the fourth quarter before the Grizzlies took control.

David Lee had 22 points and 13 rebounds in the loss, while the rest of the starting lineup combined for 30 points and 16 boards.

''At some point in the game, they turned up their defensive pressure, and we didn't react to it,'' said Lee, averaging 25.4 points and 8.2 rebounds his last five games. ''We had some turnovers. Give them credit. They hit shots down the stretch.''

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