Banged-up Wolves tangle with Hornets

The banged-up Minnesota Timberwolves will try to get back on the winning track Saturday when they welcome New Orleans to Target Center.

The Wolves, however, could be without All-Star Kevin Love as well as dynamic rookie point guard Ricky Rubio. Love, who is averaging 25.5 points per game and 13.8 rebounds, was scratched before Friday's 105-103 home loss to the Lakers with back spasms.

Rubio, meanwhile, had to be helped off the floor in the final 16 seconds when his left knee seemed to give out after a collision with Kobe Bryant. Rubio had 15 points and 10 assists prior to the injury.

Nikola Pekovic had 25 points and 13 rebounds in his return to the lineup for the Timberwolves, who had a three-game winning streak snapped and is one-half game behind Houston for the eighth and final playoff slot in the Western Conference. Rookie Derrick Williams filled in for an injured Love and ended with 22 points and 10 boards.

"With K-Love out it really does hurt, but we really competed out there," Williams told the Timberwolves' website.

"It's tough to play against the Lakers. They have a great team and one of the great players," Pekovic added.

Minnesota is also playing without backup point guard J.J. Barea, who is dealing with a sprained left ankle.

The Hornets, meanwhile, dropped their fourth straight and fell to 0-3 on a four-game road trip in Denver on Friday, losing to the Nuggets 110-97.

Lance Thomas had 18 points and Jarrett Jack netted 17 for New Orleans, which is now 5-15 as the visitor.

"That's what they do, they score a lot of points," remarked Hornets forward Trevor Ariza when talking about Denver. "Our defense, we're supposed to stop teams so we didn't do a good job of doing what we normally do."

Minnesota has won three of four over NOLA after losing the previous six in the series.