The Minnesota Timberwolves had a feeling they'd be in for a rebuilding season. The Miami Heat had no idea they'd be joining them.
The two worst teams in the NBA meet on Tuesday night in Minneapolis, with each trying to snap its longest losing streak of the season.
Miami (8-26) has dropped seven in a row since defeating Utah on Dec. 22, losing by an average of 10.1 points. Minnesota (4-29) has lost its last eight games by an average of 15.2 points.
Few expected the Timberwolves to contend this season after dealing Kevin Garnett to Boston in a blockbuster deal in the offseason. Minnesota received five players - four who are 25 or younger - and two draft picks, giving them one of the youngest teams in the league.
The Heat, however, won the Southeast Division last season and captured their first NBA championship in 2006. But Dwyane Wade missed the team's first seven games and Miami got off to a 1-8 start.
Things have yet to improve much. After falling 101-94 in Memphis on Sunday, the Heat are riding their longest losing streak since a 12-game skid from Nov. 8-Dec. 4, 2001.
"I don't know if it's a mental thing, if it's in our heads, or we don't believe, but for whatever reason we just can't get it done," said forward Udonis Haslem, who is averaging career highs of 13.0 points and 9.4 rebounds.
Wade's averages of 24.6 points and 7.0 assists aren't far off from his past two seasons, but it's been the deterioration of Shaquille O'Neal that has turned the Heat from a division winner to the worst team in the Eastern Conference.
O'Neal is averaging a career-low 14.0 points and has missed the team's last five games with hip bursitis. He said Sunday that he hoped to return in time for the game against the Timberwolves, but on Monday flew to Los Angeles to seek further medical treatment.
Miami is only averaging 94.0 points, but the team's second-leading scorer began training camp with the Timberwolves. The Heat acquired Ricky Davis from Minnesota right before the regular season began, and Davis has averaged 15.8 points and 4.2 assists.
The Timberwolves have lost 14 of their last 15 games and are the second-lowest scoring team in the NBA at 93.0 points per game.
Minnesota is 0-24 when it fails to score 100 points and 0-14 when it is outrebounded, trends that held true again in a 101-78 defeat to Dallas on Sunday.
"Effort,'' coach Randy Wittman said when asked for his biggest disappointment. "We just came out flat again for the second game in a row. Almost sleepwalking there at the beginning.''
Center Al Jefferson has been one of the team's few bright spots. He has emerged as one of the league's best young post players since coming over in the Garnett trade, averaging 20.6 points and 12.2 rebounds in his first season as a full-time starter.
Forward Antoine Walker, who was sent to Minnesota in the Davis trade, has struggled with his new team. The career 17.8-point scorer is averaging 9.8 points on a career-worst 37.4 percent shooting.
Wade shot just 6-for-22 from the field but finished with 30 points in Miami's 91-87 win on Dec. 17. The Heat snapped a six-game losing streak at Minnesota with a win there last season.
Copyright 2007 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited