NBA

Timberwolves return to court after Monday's postponement

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Timberwolves faced a big week at home with games against two likely playoff teams and one team they're competing against for the final spot in the Western Conference postseason.

Minnesota is hoping to make the best of what's left of the three games after Monday's game against the Portland Trail Blazers was postponed because of slippery conditions on the Target Center court.

The Timberwolves (25-37) -- 11th in the West and 3.5 games out of eighth -- missed a chance to make a move on Portland in ninth place. The Blazers are 1.5 games ahead of Minnesota.

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Left for the Timberwolves this week are games against the Los Angeles Clippers (38-25) on Wednesday and Golden State Warriors (52-11) on Friday.

After Monday's game was postponed, Minnesota might just be happy to play again. An ice rink under the court used for Disney On Ice and an upcoming college hockey tournament created condensation because of an unseasonably warm day in Minneapolis.

"It was unusual," Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau told the Minneapolis Star Tribune a day later. "The ice, combined with the humidity getting in. You look at all the things going on ... I guess what we have to look at, probably, is the weather. It does get warm. We have to take precautions to do all that we can, which I think we did."

The temperature in Minnesota has cooled and another two days was available to prepare the surface and control the conditions as Los Angeles makes its way to Minneapolis for the second time this season. The Clippers won 119-105 in November.

Los Angeles is back to full health -- as it was in November -- with the return of forward Blake Griffin and point guard Chris Paul.

Griffin has averaged 23.5 points, 8.0 rebounds and 5.8 assists in 17 games after recovering from knee surgery. Paul has played six games since returning from thumb surgery and averaged 18.2 points and 7.7 assists.

Griffin had 26 points and eight rebounds as Los Angeles beat the Boston Celtics 116-102 on Monday. Paul added 23 points. But while the team's stars are back, it was Jamal Crawford who sparked the comeback against Boston.

Crawford, who made 4 of 5 from 3-point range, scored 17 of his 19 points after halftime.

"I think when I'm aggressive, I think that kind of sets the tone," said Crawford, who hit 6 of 8 shots from the field in the second half, including all of his 3-pointers. "It won't always be my night. It may be Austin (Rivers) or (Marreese Speights). Whoever it is, we need to play off that guy, and from there, it creates easier shots for everybody."

A deep, healthy team puts Los Angeles in perfect position to build toward the playoffs, a place Minnesota hasn't seen in quite some time. The Timberwolves haven't been in the playoffs since 2004.

While a young team that is still building, Minnesota has started to show signs under Thibodeau. The Timberwolves are 6-4 in their past 10 games and are being led by Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins.

Towns has averaged 27.4 points and 14.2 rebounds per game during the stretch, and Wiggins is scoring 28.9 points per game during that span.

Now if Minnesota can get that home court taken care of.

"Play on a slippery court? That's like playing tennis in rain," Timberwolves rookie point guard Kris Dunn said.