By JEFF MEZYDLO
Posted Jan 08 2015 12:13PM
Andrew Wiggins won't get another crack at fellow rookie Jabari Parker, but the opportunity to help Minnesota end its lengthy losing streak is all that should be on the mind of any Timberwolves player.
Wiggins and the visiting Timberwolves can avoid a 14th straight defeat by handing the Milwaukee Bucks a fifth consecutive home loss Friday night.
In a matchup of the top two 2014 draft picks, Wiggins had 14 points, eight rebounds, four assists and committed six turnovers while Parker finished with 11, seven boards and three assists to help Milwaukee (19-18) snap a four-game skid to Minnesota with a 103-86 road victory Nov. 26.
The Timberwolves (5-29) won their next game but only once more in the last 20 and not since Dec. 10.
"We just keep pounding on that rock," coach Flip Saunders told the Timberwolves' official website. "Though it might not break, eventually if we keep on pounding it's going to break."
Minnesota might catch a break with Parker out for the season with a knee injury and 6-foot-11 Larry Sanders, who had 15 points and seven boards in the first meeting, sidelined for personal reasons.
However, without injured contributors Ricky Rubio (ankle), Nikola Pekovic (ankle, wrist) and Kevin Martin (wrist), the improving Bucks still pose a difficult challenge for a Minnesota team that's mired in its longest single-season slide since dropping the final 15 games of 2010-11.
Wiggins (14.3 points per game), though, has provided hope during these dismal times. He's averaged 22.6 points in five games and is shooting 51.5 percent while scoring at least 20 in seven of the last eight.
"He continues to grow and be a big focus for us," Saunders said.
Wiggins scored 25 points but matched a season high with six turnovers and missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer in Wednesday's 113-111 home loss to Phoenix. Minnesota led by as many as 13 points and seven after three quarters before Phoenix scored 42 in the fourth.
"It's disappointing because when we lose it sucks the energy out of a team," said Saunders, whose team ranks last in the league allowing 108.6 points per game. "Guys start thinking if it's fun to come to work the next day. These guys have been pretty resilient through it all. You'd like them to win for positive reinforcement."
Milwaukee hasn't reached 100 points in five straight games, but won three of them, including Wednesday while matching a season low for points allowed in a 97-77 win at lowly Philadelphia.
The Bucks, however, have dropped four straight and six of eight at home after starting 5-2 there. They've averaged 90.7 points on 41.2 percent shooting while losing the last three at the Bradley Center by a combined 14 points.
Milwaukee shot 53.9 percent, including 8 of 17 from 3-point range, against the 76ers. Brandon Knight and Khris Middleton each had 18 points while Zaza Pachulia added 11 with 12 boards and seven assists.
Knight (18.2 ppg) scored 15 and was one of seven Bucks in double figures at Minnesota in November.
In the first season of a four-year, $44 million deal, Sanders has missed eight straight games but said reports that he's considered quitting basketball are false.
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Bucks trail 20-29
12-12 (Lost last 2)
- Milwaukee snapped a four-game losing streak to the Wolves on 11/26. The Bucks’ 17-point margin of victory at the Target Center was their largest ever in Minnesota (previously 15 on 11/6/09, 87-72).
- The Bucks will look to sweep a season series against the Timberwolves for the first time since 2009-10.
- Both the Bucks and Wolves made NBA history in the first meeting when Jabari Parker, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine all shared the court, marking the first time that four teenagers appeared in the same game. But now, Parker is lost to a knee injury, and Antetokounmpo is no longer a teenager.
- Additionally, Milwaukee shot a season-high 94.7 percent (18-of-19) from the free-throw line in the game, the team’s highest percentage in a game with at least 15 attempts since 4/4/11 in Miami (15-of-15The Bucks are responsible for two of the five-best defensive field goal percentages by a road team in the league this season: Wednesday at Philadelphia (.301, 2nd) and on 12/31 at Cleveland (.341, 5th).
- After the win in Philadelphia, Milwaukee is now on a five-game road winning streak, which is the team’s longest since winning six consecutive on the road from 2/5/10 to 2/27/10. The Bucks ended last season0-14 away from the BMO Harris Bradley Center, but this season have a better than .500 record in games away from home (12-10).
- Milwaukee recorded a season-high 32 assists on Wednesday against the 76ers, led by Zaza Pachulia’s seven. That’s the third-highest assist total dished by a center this season.
- Milwaukee held Philadelphia to 77 points on 1/7, which ties this season’s opponent low. The Bucks arenow12-0 in games where they allow under 90 points, and those 12 games lead the league this season. The Bucks are also tied for the most games with opponent points under 80 this season with three (Atlanta and Oklahoma City).
- Milwaukee has held its last 10 opponents to under 50 percent shooting, which is the team’s longest such streak since 14 games from 12/13/13 to 1/11/14.
- The Bucks rank sixth in the NBA for fast break points per game this season with 15.4. That average would be Milwaukee’s highest in a season over the last 15 years (next highest is 14.6 FB ppg in 2000-01 season).
- Brandon Knight led the Bucks in scoring vs. Phoenix on Tuesday with 26 points. It was his 17th20-point game this season. No other Milwaukee player has more than two such games.