Wizards-Timberwolves Preview

The Associated Press

Even if rookie Bradley Beal is healthy enough to go, John Wall should have the confidence to take charge for the Washington Wizards.

The injury-plagued Minnesota Timberwolves need someone to step up.

Washington will try to win a season-best second straight on the road Wednesday night when the Timberwolves look to avoid their seventh consecutive loss.

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Wall struggled in the first six games following the All-Star break – averaging 11.2 points on 32.4 percent shooting with 4.7 turnovers – but he hit 7 of 11 shots and finished with 16 points, six assists and two turnovers in Sunday's 90-87 home win over Philadelphia. Wall scored the game's final six points after Beal was carried off the court with a sprained left ankle.

"I've proven myself in college,'' said Wall, a former No. 1 overall pick out of Kentucky. "I just have to keep proving myself."

Beal is listed as day-to-day, but the Timberwolves (20-37) will get their first look at Wall since Washington's 114-101 home win on Jan. 25 that was his first start of the season. The third-year point guard had come off the bench for the first seven games following an offseason knee injury.

Wall scored 14 points with five assists in that contest and Beal added 16 points with a career-high four blocks as Washington shot a season-high 57.8 percent.

The Wizards (19-39), though, have lost two straight and nine of 11 at Minnesota. They'll try to win back-to-back road games for the first time since a 3-0 stretch to end 2011-12.

The Timberwolves, meanwhile, haven't won since defeating the 76ers 94-87 on Feb. 20. A major reason why Minnesota has the fewest wins in the Western Conference is the number of injuries piling up on coach Rick Adelman's roster. Kevin Love (hand) has been out since Jan. 8, and now the team will be without starting center Nikola Pekovic (abdominal strain) and forward Andrei Kirilenko (strained left calf) for at least the next three contests.

Pekovic and Kirilenko missed their second and third games, respectively, on Monday when the Wolves were outscored 58-32 in the paint in a 97-81 loss to East-leading Miami.

"I don't think we have any rhythm to our game, probably because of the injuries,'' said Adelman, whose team has dropped 23 of 28 since Love's last appearance. "We're playing different people, trying to run different things. ... We're trying to find ways to be competitive each game.''

Giving the ball to second-year forward Derrick Williams could help. He's averaging team highs with 21.4 points and 10.0 rebounds over the last five games.

Williams had 18 points and 11 boards in the previous meeting with Washington. However, without Pekovic and Kirilenko this time, the young forward could struggle to reach those numbers versus Emeka Okafor and Nene.

Okafor is averaging 13.8 points and 10.7 rebounds in the last nine games, while Nene had 15 points and nine rebounds on Sunday after a two-game absence with a sore right shoulder.

Minnesota's J.J. Barea will be available to back up guards Ricky Rubio and Luke Ridnour after the Flagrant-2 - and subsequent ejection - he received on Monday for his foul on Ray Allen, was downgraded to a Flagrant-1 by the league, meaning he will not face a suspension or fine.

The Timberwolves' last seven-game losing streak was an 11-game skid from March 30-April 17.

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