NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Friday, March 23rd (All times eastern)
Minnesota Timberwolves (23-25) at Oklahoma City Thunder (35-12), 8 p.m.
(Sports Network) - There's still plenty of time for the Minnesota Timberwolves to force their way into the Western Conference postseason race, but their recent play indicates otherwise.
Minnesota is three games off the eighth and final playoff berth in the conference and will close out a season-high seven-game road trip tonight against the Oklahoma City Thunder, the top seed in the West. The Timberwolves fell to 2-4 on the trek with Wednesday's 116-100 loss at San Antonio and received 18 points and 11 assists from J.J. Barea. Kevin Love also had a double-double with 17 points and 12 rebounds for the Wolves, who are 11-13 away from the Twin Cities and have lost six of eight overall.
"We played against a tough team tonight," said Barea. "You have to give San Antonio a lot of credit. They played with more energy."
The Timberwolves, who lost for the 15th straight time in the Alamo City, are just 4-17 when allowing the opponent to score 100-plus points and 7-22 when being outshot. Six of the Wolves' last eight games have been decided by six points or less.
In injury news for Minnesota, forward Michael Beasley (toe) is questionable for tonight and center Nikola Pekovic (ankles) is expected to miss the game.
Meanwhile, the Northwest Division-leading Thunder have alternated wins and losses over their last nine games and will continue a three-game homestand this evening.
Oklahoma City opened the residency with Wednesday's 114-91 win over the Los Angeles Clippers, as Kevin Durant collected 32 points and nine rebounds, while Russell Westbrook added 19 points, Serge Ibaka scored 15 and Derek Fisher had five points in his Thunder debut after signing with the team earlier in the day. Fisher had his contract bought out by Houston, which acquired him from the Los Angeles Lakers before the trade deadline.
"I thought defensively we played good throughout the game," said Thunder head coach Scott Brooks. "It seems like it's been a while since we had 48 minutes of consistent defensive pressure on the ball, taking points out of the paint and rebounding. We did a good job in all three of those areas."
Brooks' squad is an impressive 20-4 in the OKC this season and will also entertain the Miami Heat on the homestand. The Thunder took the opener of the series with Minnesota on Dec. 26, posting a 104-100 triumph in Minneapolis for their 10th consecutive victory in the series.
Oklahoma City has won 17 of the previous 20 matchups between the teams and four in a row as the host.
03/23 10:50:26 ET