Wolves hope to halt losing streak with Jazz in town

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(SportsNetwork.com) - The Minnesota Timberwolves hope to put the brakes on a nagging 10-game losing streak when they resume a four-game homestand Saturday versus the Utah Jazz at Target Center.

The losing trend continued for the Timberwolves in the opener of this residency, as they dropped a 110-107 decision to the Sacramento Kings on New Year's Day. The Kings never trailed and raced out to a 19-7 lead.

Minnesota would later pull within 60-58 at halftime, but Sacramento took its largest lead at 81-68. After Thaddeus Young tied the game at 99-99 from the foul line, the Kings pulled away.

Rookie Andrew Wiggins scored 27 points and both Shabazz Muhammad and Gorgui Dieng ended with 15 for the T-wolves, who shot a decent 46.2 percent and made only seven of their 24 3-point attempts.

"Like I have told our guys, we have been so close, we just can't get over the hump," Wolves coach Flip Saunders said after his team's 16th loss in the past 17 tries.

The Wolves are 3-12 at home and will also entertain Denver and Phoenix at Target Center, where they have dropped four in a row. Minnesota last lost 11 in a row from March 30-April 17, 2012 and fell to 1-25 when allowing 100-plus points.

Minnesota is only 2-17 against teams from the West (1-8 at home). It hopes to get some key contributors back this month in Ricky Rubio, Kevin Martin and Nikola Pekovic. The three took part in what Saunders called "dummy drills" in practice this week.

The Jazz have lost two of their last three, but their play of late has been solid. Utah has won five of its previous eight.

On Friday, the Jazz fell victim to the red-hot Atlanta Hawks, 98-92, at EnergySolutions Arena.

Gordon Hayward paced the Jazz with 18 points, Dante Exum netted a career-high 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting and Rudy Gobert supplied 11 points, seven boards and four blocks in the loss.

"I think we were just waiting for them to do something in the first bit rather than trying to be the aggressor," Exum said. "When we kind of picked it up a bit and started to get that energy, that's when the game started to improve for us."

After trailing by 20 points late in the third quarter, the Jazz battled back as Gobert hit a pair from the foul line to cut the deficit to 91-82 with five minutes to play.

Hayward knocked down a 3-pointer and went in on a layup for a 91-87 game with 3:38 remaining after Gobert's block at the other end.

DeMarre Carroll slowed Utah's momentum by cooly knocking down a deep 2 before the shot clock expired. After Derrick Favors missed a pair of free throws, Jeff Teague gave the Hawks a 95-87 lead on a floater with 2:48 to play.

Trey Burke and Favors each made a pair of shots at the line for a four-point game, but Carroll, Al Horford and Teague each split a pair of free throws to seal the win.

Utah recently took the first of four matchups against the Northwest-rival Timberwolves with a 100-94 triumph on Dec, 30 in Salt Lake City. Hayward and Burke both scored 26 points and Muhammad added 30 in that one for Minnesota.

The Jazz are 13-5 in the past 18 meetings between the Northwest foes and 70-35 all-time in the series. Utah and Minnesota will meet again March 23 and 30.