NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Friday, November 13th (All times eastern)
Dallas Mavericks (5-3) at Minnesota Timberwolves (1-8), 8 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The reeling Minnesota Timberwolves hope to put the brakes on an ugly, eight-game skid without their best player when they host Dallas at Target Center on Friday.
Center Al Jefferson left the Wolves on Thursday to tend to a family member's illness in Florida and is expected to miss the team's next two games, tonight vs. Dallas and Saturday at Memphis. Meanwhile, Wolves second-year power forward Kevin Love remains sidelined with a broken hand suffered in the preseason.
The absence of the team's two frontcourt stars doesn't bode well for a Minnesota club that hasn't beaten the Mavs in its last 12 attempts. If Dallas can earn the win tonight, the 13-game run against an opponent will match San Antonio's streak against New Jersey as the longest active streak by one NBA team over an opponent.
Most recently the Wolves were routed by Portland on Wednesday when Greg Oden had his strongest showing of the season with 18 points and 11 rebounds, leading the Trail Blazers to a 107-84 rout of Minnesota, beating the T-Wolves for a 10th straight time.
Rookie Jonny Flynn had 15 points and six rebounds for Minnesota, which is off to a 1-8 start for the third straight season. Jefferson chipped in 14 points and six boards for the Timberwolves, who were coming off an embarrassing 146-105 loss at Golden State Monday night.
"We came out flat, no energy and no intensity. Coming out of halftime you can't do that," said Minnesota guard Wayne Ellington. "It was a pretty close game at the half. We knew they were going to come out with some fire, some intensity, but we didn't."
The Mavs kicked off a four-game road trip in losing fashion on Wednesday in San Antonio when Richard Jefferson had a season-best 29 points and pulled down seven rebounds, leading the short-handed Spurs to a 92-83 victory over Dallas.
With Tim Duncan and Tony Parker out with ankle injuries, San Antonio turned to Jefferson to take over offensively and the veteran forward did just that. He shot 11-of-23 from the floor and also had four assists and three steals.
Dirk Nowitzki tallied 29 points and 12 rebounds for the Mavericks, who had a two-game winning streak broken. Jason Terry added 19 points off the bench, but a 35.4 percent performance from the floor proved to be Dallas' downfall.
"We're just not aggressive," said Nowitzki. "We're a veteran team and we've got to find a way to be better early and bring more energy early. Not only pick it up when we're down, we've got to be a hit-first kind of team and not hit back all the time when we're down."
Josh Howard, who was a miserable 2-of-11 from the floor against San Antonio, is out for tonight's game and the foreseeable future as he continues to rehabilitate his left ankle from offseason surgery.
Dallas will finish its trip with visits to Detroit and Milwaukee.
11/13 14:09:58 ET