The New Jersey Nets hope a game against the team with the worst record in the NBA is just what they need to avoid matching their longest losing streak in more than three years.
The Nets attempt to snap an eight-game slide Sunday night when they conclude their six-game road trip against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
This is New Jersey's worst losing streak since dropping nine games in a row from Nov. 10-28, 2004. The Nets (18-25) haven't won since a 99-88 victory over Seattle on Jan. 9.
A poor start did them in Friday, going 5-of-22 from the field in the first quarter of a 100-85 loss at Denver.
"We need wins and we need them badly," said New Jersey's Josh Boone, who had 13 points and 14 rebounds. "It would help if we got off to better starts and played better defense."
New Jersey is being outscored by an average of 16.1 points during the eight-game slide while allowing opponents to score 110.1 points per game. Prior to the skid, the Nets were allowing an average of 97.7.
A matchup with Minnesota (7-35), among the lowest-scoring teams in the Western Conference at 94.1 points per game, would appear to give New Jersey a good chance to end its slump. However, the Nets have lost their last four trips to the Target Center and the Timberwolves have been playing much better lately.
Minnesota posted back-to-back wins over Golden State and Phoenix before nearly pulling off a road win over the NBA's top team record-wise, blowing a five-point lead in the final 1:51 of an 87-86 loss to Boston on Friday.
"We're trying to learn how to win games like this, and we're putting ourselves in position to do it," Timberwolves coach Randy Wittman said. "This is a tough one to swallow, but it's one we will learn from.
"We're competing every night. We have got to have a number of guys that contribute from an offensive standpoint."
Sebastian Telfair's improved play has provided Minnesota with a lift. He's scored in double figures in six straight games, averaging 13.0 points on 51.7 percent shooting while totaling 43 assists and just 10 turnovers.
The possible future star at point guard will be matching up with one of the best from the past decade.
Jason Kidd recorded his league-high 11th triple-double of the season - one shy of his total from all of 2006-07 - and the 98th of his career on Friday with 13 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists.
As for double-doubles, Minnesota's Al Jefferson is second in the league with 31 behind Orlando's Dwight Howard (39). Jefferson, though, is looking to bounce back from a subpar performance Friday against Boston - his former team - as he was limited to 15 points and five rebounds.
Jefferson has averaged 24.7 points and 16.3 boards in his last three games against New Jersey.
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