After coming up short against one of the NBA’s worst teams over the weekend, the Indiana Pacers are hoping to avoid a similar result in what appears to be another favorable matchup Tuesday night.
The Pacers try to continue their home domination against the Western Conference-worst Minnesota Timberwolves, who are on the verge of matching the longest single-season losing streak in team history.
Indiana (15-24) had won seven of 11 to follow a 1-10 slide before taking a big step back in Saturday’s 93-92 loss at Philadelphia. David West led all scorers with a season-high 28 points, but the Pacers were limited to 33.0 percent shooting for their second-worst mark this season.
“We’re just going to have to make it up somewhere,” said West, who missed what would have been the game-winning jumper with one second left. “We had gained some momentum over the last week and felt like we were playing some pretty solid basketball. We felt like this was an opportunity to keep it going.”
The Pacers should like their chances of bouncing back against a Timberwolves team that’s dropped 21 of 22, with its win coming 90-82 over Portland on Dec. 10. Minnesota (5-31), which has dropped its last 15 by an average of 10.6 points, has also been outscored by an average of 15.0 points during a 10-game road skid.
The Timberwolves have twice lost 16 consecutive games in a single season, most recently Feb. 24-March 28, 2010.
“It’s time we all need to realize that we need to take this very personal,” said center Gorgui Dieng, who missed Monday’s practice. “We just need to play harder to win games.”
The Timberwolves are set to embark on a four-game trek after falling 108-93 to San Antonio on Saturday. Zach LaVine scored 19 points off the bench and Dieng added 18 and 12 rebounds.
While there weren’t many positives to take away, Minnesota set a franchise record by shooting 26 of 26 from the foul line.
“They’ve been resilient,” coach Flip Saunders told the team’s official website. “That said I don’t want them to accept it. … They have to know that there are consequences. … We have to get better and if we’re not winning we have to keep working.”
Things aren’t about to get any easier in Indianapolis, where the Timberwolves have dropped their last five by an average of 15.0 points. Minnesota is 4-20 all-time on the road against the Pacers.
Indiana blew a 19-point lead before escaping with a 100-96 win at Minnesota on Dec. 21. C.J. Miles led the way with 28 points off the bench while Mo Williams and Shabazz Muhammad combined for 45 for the Timberwolves.
Minnesota learned Monday that Muhammad will miss at least two weeks due to an abdominal injury. Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Martin, who have been dealing with long-term injuries, both practiced in full Monday.
Star rookie Andrew Wiggins is averaging 21.0 points on 49.4 percent from the floor over the last 10 games, up from his season marks of 14.5 and 42.3. His turnaround began immediately after he scored five on 2-of-8 shooting against the Pacers last month.
Indiana has won four of five at home while holding opponents to an average of 93.0 points and 39.1 percent shooting.