A pair of Northwest Division rivals meet at Target Center tonight when the Utah Jazz and Minnesota Timberwolves both try to get back to the .500 mark on the season and stay out of the cellar in the division.
Oklahoma City is running away with the Northwest but things are jumbled after the Thunder with just two games separating second place Denver from both the Jazz and Wolves.
After a solid start to the season Utah fell below sea level on Monday, falling to Southwest frontrunners San Antonio, 106-102, in Salt Lake City.
Al Jefferson, who spent three seasons with the Wolves, led the Jazz in that one with 20 points and 11 rebounds, while Paul Millsap also had a double- double, scoring 16 and pulling down 11 boards. The Jazz have lost four of their last five overall and fell to 3-9 in their last 12.
"Tough loss. I thought our guys really played hard," said Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin, whose team had more rebounds, more points in the paint and more fast break points than the Spurs. "We had a chance to win the ball game."
Minnesota, meanwhile, is coming off a tough overtime loss in Denver when Arron Afflalo drained the go-ahead shot with 33.7 seconds remaining in overtime as the Nuggets outlasted the Timberwolves, 103-101, on Monday.
All-Star Kevin Love had his NBA-best 29th double-double with 22 points and 13 boards, and Michael Beasley added 17 off the bench for the Timberwolves, who saw a three-game winning steak end.
Minnesota had its best chance to tie with 4.9 seconds remaining. Down 102-99, Martell Webster stole an inbounds pass from Julyan Stone at midcourt. Rather than pull up for a three-point attempt, however, Webster drove into the paint for a slam dunk. The T-Wolves were down just one, but with 1.3 ticks to go, it was too little, too late.
"I don't know what was going through [Webster's] head," Love said. "We talked about it [during the timeout] if we were able to get a steal we would pull up for three."
On the injury front for tonight's contest, the Wolves could be without starting center Nikola Pekovic, who sprained his right ankle against Denver.
Fellow big man Darko Milicic is also questionable after sitting out against the Nuggets with an illness. For the Jazz guard Raja Bell could miss a second straight contest with a right adductor injury.