Pelicans, Wolves haul long losing streaks into matchup

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The Minnesota Timberwolves have had four days to work on ending their losing streak.

The New Orleans Pelicans have less than 24 hours to work on ending theirs.

The Timberwolves haven’t played since Friday, when they lost at home to the Los Angeles Clippers 124-117, their seventh consecutive defeat. On Wednesday, Minnesota hosts the Pelicans, who lost their franchise-worst 13th straight, 108-101 in overtime, to the visiting Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday.

Minnesota coach Ryan Saunders is evaluating how to end the streak, but he’s not planning to overhaul anything.

“I’m not an overreaction-type person,” he said. “We’re committed, and we’re not going to change the way we play. You never say never on players in terms of what minutes they may get because during the season it’s an evolution. It’s ever-changing, so you never say never to that.

“We’re committed to the system we’re playing in because we know in the long run it’s going to pay off for us.”

The Timberwolves couldn’t contain the Clippers’ one-two punch of Paul George (46 points) and Kawhi Leonard (42 points), but they did cut a 27-point deficit late in the third quarter to five points in the fourth quarter.

Saunders said he liked his team’s defensive physicality during the comeback, and he added that it carried over into practice early this week. Guard Josh Okogie agreed.

“We were playing physical with the Clippers in the fourth quarter, and we made them turn the ball over, take even tougher shots than they were taking before, and we were able to surge a comeback,” Okogie said. “We’ve got to stay together, continue to stay together, trust the process, trust the system, and I think we’ll be all right.”

Center Karl-Anthony Towns, who led the Timberwolves with 39 points and 12 rebounds against the Clippers, is listed as questionable for Wednesday with a sprained left knee he sustained late in the Friday contest.

While Towns and his teammates had plenty of time to rest and recover for Wednesday, the Pelicans played an extra period, then boarded a plane to begin a four-game road trip that will keep them away from home through Christmas.

The Pelicans’ loss to the Nets was their second overtime defeat during their skid.

“That was probably our best defensive game against a really good offensive team,” New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry said. “They shoot the ball well, and they made some tough shots in overtime and down the stretch.”

The Pelicans missed their last 16 shots of the first half and trailed by seven points at halftime.

They were down by six with less than three minutes remaining in the fourth quarter before Jrue Holiday brought them back. He had five points and an assist to give New Orleans a two-point lead with 56.5 seconds left. The Nets tied the game on Jarrett Allen’s dunk with 45.8 seconds to go.

Both teams missed a shot, and the Nets’ miss was an airball by the Nets’ Spencer Dinwiddie that should have led to a shot-clock violation that would have given New Orleans time to attempt a game-winning shot. However, the officials ruled the ball touched the rim and the game clock expired, sending the contest to overtime.

“It was a blown call,” Gentry said. “The ball clearly did not hit the rim. All they had to do was go over and review it. There were at least 2.7 seconds to go in the game.”

Dinwiddie scored the first four points of the overtime, and Brooklyn never relinquished the lead.

“I don’t see anyone in the locker room quitting,” Gentry said. “We battled and came up short again. We just have to keep grinding and plugging away.”

–Field Level Media

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