The Minnesota Timberwolves have struggled to string together wins of late but a favorable stretch of the schedule may help them find a rhythm. The stretch begins Sunday night when the Los Angeles Clippers - fresh off a 26-point loss at lowly Dallas on Saturday - visit the Timberwolves, who have exchanged losses and wins over the last seven outings.
Including Sunday’s contest, Minnesota plays six of its next seven games against the five worst teams in the Western Conference - four of them at home. The Timberwolves are coming off a 111-107 loss at Oklahoma City in which they struggled to overcome the Thunder’s 42-point first quarter and were outrebounded 42-26. “You can’t give a team like that two or three shots at a time, so there was times in the second half that I thought we defended OK, but then gave them a second or third shot,” Minnesota coach Tom Thibodeau told reporters. “When you do that for great players, you’re going to pay for it, and we did.” Los Angeles is 0-2 since losing star forward Blake Griffin to a knee injury, and the two losses have come by an average of 22.5 points.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, Prime Ticket (Los Angeles), FSN North (Minnesota)
ABOUT THE CLIPPERS (8-13): DeAndre Jordan scored 14 points on 6-of-7 shooting and hauled in 17 rebounds at Dallas, but his fellow starters combined to go 11-of-44 from the floor. The reserves weren’t a whole lot better and backup forward Sam Dekker missed all seven of his shots in a scoreless 13 minutes. Los Angeles was outrebounded by 16, one shy of matching its largest single-game deficit on the glass this season.
ABOUT THE TIMBERWOLVES (13-10): Point guard Jeff Teague returned from an Achilles injury and showed no ill effects with 11 points and 10 assists against Oklahoma City. “Little winded, but I was OK,” Teague told reporters after a 34-minute effort. “I didn’t know I’d play that much. (Tyus Jones) has been playing really well. I figured he’d play more, too.” Jones averaged 12.3 points on 54.2 percent shooting, 6.7 assists and four steals in three starts while Teague was sidelined but saw just 11 minutes versus the Thunder.
1. Timberwolves SF Andrew Wiggins is averaging 25.5 points while making 18-of-32 shots in the last two contests.
2. Clippers SF Wesley Johnson is 1-for-10 from 3-point range over his last three games after going 11-for-15 over his previous three.
3. Minnesota C Karl-Anthony Towns averaged 30 points and 12 rebounds as Minnesota won two of three meetings last season.
PREDICTION: Timberwolves 113, Clippers 101