The Minnesota Timberwolves head to Big D on Monday night to take on the Dallas Mavericks in a battle of the walking wounded.
The Timberwolves began the season without All-NBA power forward Kevin Love and cornerstone point guard Ricky Rubio. Things turned worse in this relatively new NBA campaign.
Chase Budinger, a key contributor off the bench, tore the lateral meniscus in his left knee. He will have surgery to repair the injury and his return date is in question.
Brandon Roy, who retired from the league with bad knees two seasons ago, dressed but didn't play Saturday in a loss at the Chicago Bulls. Three guesses on the reason - yep, right knee soreness.
Point guard J.J. Barea has missed the last two games with a left mid-foot sprain and he didn't even fly to Dallas with the team.
"We're playing hard. We're trying to do what we're supposed to do," said Timberwolves head coach Rick Adelman. "We have a group that's going to keep playing hard. I don't understand it. The other guys have to step up. We're not going to get those guys back. We have to keep playing."
The Mavs haven't had an easy go of it either on the health front. Dirk Nowitzki is out indefinitely after knee surgery and Shawn Marion continues to sit with a sprained left MCL.
The Mavericks started four players who weren't in a Dallas uniform last season in Saturday's 101-97 overtime loss to the Charlotte Bobcats in Charlotte. It was the first victory over the Mavericks in the Bobcats' history and Charlotte is now 1-16 against their peers from Dallas.
"We missed some good shots and made some poor decisions," Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle admitted. "This team has a lot to learn about winning. This is a very painful lesson."
O.J. Mayo continued to pace the Mavs on Saturday. He scored a team-high 22 points and it was the fifth consecutive game he led Dallas in scoring. Vince Carter had 19 off the bench thanks to 5-for-8 beyond the arc.
The problem for the Mavericks is definitely not on the offensive side, where they lead the NBA in points per game. Dallas has struggled defensively this season. The Mavs rank 25th in points allowed and share last in turnovers caused.
The Mavericks have won 20 of the last 24 meetings with Minnesota, although the Wolves took two of three last season, including a 105-90 victory in Dallas in January.