Matchup: Washington Wizards (35-36) vs. Minnesota Timberwolves (23-48)
When: Wednesday, 6:30 p.m. (TV: CSN+, CSNmidatlantic.com via NBC Sports Live Extra)
Season series: Washington won the previous meeting, 104-98 in Minnesota on March 3.
Recent: The Wizards split a home-and-home set with the Hawks. Wednesday's 122-101 loss snapped a season-high five-game winning streak. The Timberwolves won 113-104 over the Kings on Wednesday, but have lost eight of 12.
What to know
When last we met: John Wall recorded one of his umpteen double-doubles in the win earlier this month over Minnesota, but it wasn't the starters who fueled the victory. "Our bench played really well against Minnesota," Garrett Temple recalled. Fine, maybe it's cheating to say the Wizards bench led the way considering usual starter Bradley Beal (team-high 26 points) was part of it. Still facts are facts and those facts include Alan Anderson scoring 18 points and sinking four 3-pointers. "Double A came in and had a big game. He hit some outside shots," Temple noted.
We'll see if Anderson (ankle, groin) returns to the lineup after missing the last two games. Whether the swingman plays or not, following a similar overall formula of focusing defensively on Rookie off the Year favorite Karl-Anthony Towns while limiting their desired up-tempo style. "We kept them out of transition and really limited Towns," Temple stated. "The bigs did a good job on Towns." The young big scored 14 points, four below his season average.
The chase: Losing to the Hawks combined with a Pistons win dropped Washington to 2 1/2 games behind Detroit (38-34) for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East. The good news lies with the Chicago Bulls (36-35) getting swept by the New York Knicks in a home-and-home scenario. The Pistons, winners of four straight, remain on their lengthy homestand, but the competition starts picking up beginning with Friday's matchup against the Charlotte Hornets.
Beyond what the others are doing, Washington must take care of business in its final home game before opening a five-game road trip Sunday at the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Timberwolves: Towns didn't rock the Wizards in the first meeting, but the 6-foot-10 rookie is rolling over opponents of late. Showing no signs of hitting a rookie wall, Towns is averaging 27.3 points over last three games while shooting 60.3 percent from the field. NBA Dunk champion Zach LaVine is showing he's more than just a high-riser by sinking 18 of 34 3-pointers over his last five games. Defensively, Minnesota allows 105.7 points per game. Even though the wins aren't there yet, the talented kids are hanging tough. Their last three losses, including earlier this week against Golden State, have been decided by five points or less.