The Minnesota Timberwolves hope the 11th time is the charm as they try to clear a pesky hurdle when they host the New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday. The Timberwolves are trying to move above .500 - something they've failed to do in 10 tries since falling to 8-8 on Nov. 25. The Pelicans, who are coming off a 100-89 win at Cleveland on Wednesday, aim for a season-best fourth consecutive victory.
If the Timberwolves are going to cross the break-even threshold, they'll have to do so without center Nikola Pekovic, who will be out at least a week with bursitis in his right ankle. Half of the duo the team is touting as the "Bruise Brothers," along with Kevin Love, Pekovic is averaging career highs in points (18) and rebounds (9.1). Both teams have plenty of ground left to make up to get back into the Western Conference playoff picture, as Minnesota is three games behind eighth-place Dallas and New Orleans is six games out of the last playoff spot.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, FSN New Orleans, FSN North (Minnesota)
ABOUT THE PELICANS (19-25): New Orleans is far from full strength with starters Ryan Anderson (back), Jrue Holiday (stress fracture) and Jason Smith (knee) all out, but it still has Anthony Davis. The second-year forward has been a dominant force in the paint at both ends, averaging 20.4 points, 10.4 rebounds and a league-best 3.27 blocks. Guard Eric Gordon (16 points) is also playing well at the offensive end and dished out a season-high nine assists against the Cavaliers.
ABOUT THE TIMBERWOLVES (22-22): Minnesota must lean more than ever on Love (24.9 points, 12.9 rebounds) but might also need more scoring from its backcourt while Pekovic is out. Kevin Martin (18.9 points) is capable of being the second option, and small forward Corey Brewer has averaged 14 points over the past four games. Minnesota looks to Ronny Turiaf to take Pekovic's place as Love's bruising brethren, and it hopes the oft-injured big man can duplicate his 14-point, seven-rebound performance in Monday's 95-86 win at Chicago.
1. The Timberwolves have won three straight meetings and seven of 11 overall against New Orleans, including a 124-112 home victory Jan. 1.
2. Davis has recorded four or more blocked shots in five consecutive games, tying Alonzo Mourning's franchise record.
3. Minnesota's Ricky Rubio (117) and Brewer (72) have combined for 189 steals, the most by any pair of teammates in the NBA.
PREDICTION: Timberwolves 109, Pelicans 101