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NBA Preview from The Sports Network



Thursday, March 31st (All times eastern)

Minnesota Timberwolves (37-34) at Los Angeles Lakers (33-37), 10:30 p.m.

(Sports Network) - Two teams that are trying to stay alive in the playoff race meet tonight, as the streaking Minnesota Timberwolves visit the fading Los Angeles Lakers at the Staples Center.

The Timberwolves trail Memphis and Denver by 2 1/2 games for the eighth and final playoff berth in the Western Conference, while the Lakers , who are in serious danger of missing the postseason for the first time since 1994. are six games behind the Grizzlies and Nuggets.

This is the third and final meeting of the season between the clubs. The Lakers won the two previous contests, as they defeated the Timberwolves 105-96 on January 10th at the Target Center and 93-90 on January 19th at the Staples Center.

Overall, the Lakers have won three in a row and five of the last eight contests in this series. These two teams have split the last 10 meetings. Minnesota has lost two straight and 19 of its last 21 at the Lakers.

Minnesota attempts to match a season-high five-game winning streak. The Timberwolves, who have won five in a row twice during the campaign, start an important three-game road trip tonight.

On Sunday, Kevin Garnett notched his 61st double-double of the season as the streaking Timberwolves continued their pursuit of the postseason, posting their fourth straight victory with an 89-85 decision over the Los Angeles Clippers at the Target Center. Garnett scored 20 points and grabbed 13 rebounds for Minnesota.

Guard Sam Cassell collected 16 points and five assists in Sunday's victory for Minnesota, while Wally Szczerbiak contributed 12 points for the Timberwolves, who have won nine of their last 13 games overall. Troy Hudson and Eddie Griffin chipped in 11 points apiece against the Clippers. Griffin also had eight boards in the win.

The Timberwolves, who are 32-16 when they allow under 100 points this season, have 11 games left on their schedule. Six of their final contests will be played on the road, while six of the games are against teams with below .500 records.

The reigning MVP Garnett has recorded 14 double-doubles in his last 15 contests. He is averaging 22.5 points, 14.3 rebounds and 5.3 assists in his last 10 games.

Minnesota, which will visit the Phoenix Suns on Friday and the Sacramento Kings on Sunday in the finale of the current swing, are 16-19 on the road this season. The Timberwolves have won five of their last eight on the road.

The Lakers play the finale of a three-game homestand. On Tuesday, All-Star Kobe Bryant scored 32 points, as the Lakers halted their eight-game losing streak with a 117-107 victory over the New York Knicks at the Staples Center.

Caron Butler finished with 26 points in the win over New York for the Lakers, while Devean George came off the bench and tallied a season-high 18 points in the victory.

The Lakers have 12 games remaining on their scheduled. They are slated to play seven of the contests on the road, while all of the games are against teams from the West and 10 are against squads with records of .500 or better.

The Lakers, who have allowed over 100 points in 14 of their last 18 games, are 22-14 as the host this season.

03/31 12:26:00 ET


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