Wizards, Wolves to meet with eye on playoffs
The Washington Wizards host the Minneapolis Timberwolves on Sunday in a game between teams looking to stay in the playoff hunt.
The Wizards (25-37) had a chance to win their second straight road game Friday night but faltered in Boston. Despite a poor shooting night, the Wizards led briefly in the fourth quarter before dropping a 107-96 decision to a Celtics team that had lost four straight games.
Turnovers doomed the Wizards late as they were outscored 16-8 down the stretch. On a night they shot 36 of 89 (40.4 percent) from the floor, Washington compounded its troubles by committing 18 turnovers that led to 24 Boston points.
"I thought we played a really solid defensive game against a team that's loaded with a lot of talent and All-Star players," coach Scott Brooks told the Washington Post. "But yeah, the turnovers. We gave them so many easy opportunities."
Bradley Beal continued his torrid scoring. He led the Wizards with 29 points and 11 rebounds but committed two late turnovers.
"That just shifted the whole momentum of the game from the rest of the point on," Beal said. "Just got to take care of the ball."
Jeff Green and Tomas Satoransky added 15 points apiece for Washington, which rallied from an abysmal start in which the Wizards shot 7 of 23 in the first quarter.
Washington is in 11th place in the Eastern Conference while Minnesota occupies the same spot in the West. Both are within reach of the eighth-place teams in the playoff race.
The Wizards will play seven of their next nine games at home, where they are 17-12 overall and 14-7 since Nov. 20. Overall this season, the Wizards are outscoring opponents by 2.8 points per 100 possessions at home and rank fourth in the NBA in points scored per game at home at 117.0.
The Timberwolves are 9-23 on the road and are allowing 38.9 percent 3-point shooting. They have been outscored by 4.5 points per 100 possessions on the road overall.
Minnesota will be looking to salvage the finale of a three-game road trip when it meets the Wizards for the first time this season on Sunday. (The teams will play again March 9 in Minneapolis.)
The Timberwolves (29-33) have made a habit of losing close games and their most recent outing was a perfect example. Minnesota stayed close at Indiana on Thursday night, but missed free throws, and a timely Indiana offensive rebound contributed to a 122-115 loss to the Pacers.
The Wolves shot only 23 of 34 from the free-throw line and 19 turnovers resulted in 28 Indiana points.
"Getting multiple stops in a row. That's the key and it's different from last year," forward Taj Gibson told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. "This year, it's getting stops late in games, count on your defense because late in the game, it's tough. ... Momentum can always change, but it comes down to, you've got to count on your defense, corral the ball, rebound the ball."
Karl-Anthony Towns scored a season-high 42 points in the loss, including 23 in the first quarter on 8-for-14 shooting.
"Just another night," Towns told the Star-Tribune. "Just being aggressive. Made some shots. Some tough ones early, got good looks and stops, got some moves to go in."
Despite the Timberwolves' record, Towns has been stellar of late. He is averaging 37.7 points, 18.7 rebounds and 4.0 assists over the past three games, while shooting 60.6 percent from the field and 47.8 percent from 3-point range.
--Field Level Media
Updated March 2, 2019