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|The Minnesota Timberwolves cannot afford anymore losses if they hope to reach the postseason for the first time in 14 years.
The Timberwolves face a must-win situation Friday when they visit the Los Angeles Lakers.
Consecutive losses have dropped Minnesota (44-35) into the middle of an extremely tight race for the final playoff spots in the Western Conference. Minnesota fell to eighth in the West after losing at the Denver Nuggets 100-96 on Thursday night.
The loss at Denver occurred four days after a 121-97 rout by the Utah Jazz at Minnesota.
“We’ve got to do better Andrew Adams Jersey ,” Minnesota coach Tom Thibodeau told reporters after the latest loss.
The Nuggets are also 44-35, but Minnesota holds the tiebreaker because they’ve won two of three in the head-to-head matchup so far. The teams also meet in the regular-season finale on Wednesday in Minnesota.
In the meantime, the San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder and New Orleans Pelicans are each 44-34, one game in front of the Timberwolves and Nuggets with three games remaining.
Big-time help for Minnesota should be on the way, however.
Thibodeau said Thursday night there’s a good chance leading scorer Jimmy Butler returns after missing the past 17 games with a knee injury. The four-time All Star is averaging 22.2 points.
Jeff Teague also returned against Denver after missing the Utah game with a sore knee and he finished with 15 points and six assists in 36 minutes.
Derrick Rose also returned after missing the previous six games with an ankle injury but totaled just four points in 15 minutes and didn’t record and assist or rebound.
“We need everyone,” Thibodeau said. “Everyone has to step up now. We need everyone’s best. We’ve got to play great intensity on every play.”
Minnesota is 12-13 against Western Conference opponents on the road this season. They won their only other game against the Lakers at Staples Center this season, a 121-104 victory on Christmas.
The Lakers (34-44) can play spoiler for the second consecutive game.
They knocked off the Spurs 122-112 in overtime on Wednesday to keep San Antonio just inside the playoff bubble while also ending the Spurs’ chances at 50 wins for an 18th consecutive season.
Rookie Kyle Kuzma continues to be one of the brightest lights for the Lakers this season.
He scored 26 points in a 117-110 loss at the Jazz on Tuesday, then came back the following night and scored 30 in against the Spurs.
Kuzma has four 30-point games this season Lee Smith Jersey , the most by a Los Angeles rookie since Magic Johnson in 1979-80. He already became the first NBA rookie to record at least 1,200 points, 450 rebounds and 150 3-pointers in a season.
“It’s fun watching him compete at that level,” Lakers coach Luke Walton told reporters after Los Angeles completed the first season sweep of the Spurs since 1997-98.
Lonzo Ball was expected to be the most valuable rookie for the Lakers this season, but he’s missed the past four games with a left knee contusion and likely won’t play against the Timberwolves. He’s missed 26 games overall this season due to injury.
Brandon Ingram, the second-leading scorer for Los Angeles at 16.2 points, missed the past three games because he was in the NBA concussion protocol and his status also remains in doubt for Friday.
At a time when the Arizona Diamondbacks‘ rotation is in flux, left-hander Patrick Corbin could do well to give them a good start Friday against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park.
Arizona expects several injured starters to return soon, and roster decisions are coming. Corbin’s spot would not seem to be in jeopardy Anthony Hitchens Jersey , but he is coming off some inconsistent performances.
In early May, he was 4-0 with a 2.12 ERA. He goes into Friday’s start with a 6-3 record and a 3.48 ERA and is expected to be matched against Pittsburgh’s Ivan Nova (4-5, 4.42).
Corbin has given up at least five runs in three of his past four starts, including five against the Pirates at home on June 11.
In his most recent outing, a 5-1 loss to the New York Mets on Saturday, he gave up all five runs on eight hits in six innings.
“Just a couple mistakes there,” Corbin said of the game against the Mets. “If I locate better, different outcome.”
Corbin, who is 1-2 with a 5.90 ERA in five career starts against Pittsburgh Travis Kelce Jersey , hasn’t been completely off lately. He has 19 strikeouts in his past 16 2/3 innings.
But against the Mets he could not pinpoint his curveball or his fastball.
“I just thought the pitch sequencing was a little bit off, and I thought there were a lot of fastball mistakes out over the plate that were hit, and they were handled by the Mets,” Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said. “Didn’t really get to the secondary stuff the way he typically does, and I think it’s more a product of the game plan and sequencing.”
Lovullo hasn’t lost confidence in Corbin.
“Worrisome? No. Not an issue for me whatsoever. We know that the season is going to have good and bad moments,” he said.
The Diamondbacks (41-33) cruised to a 9-3 win in the series opener Thursday as the Pirates (36-38) lost for the third time in four games.
Pittsburgh dropped two of three last week at Arizona.
Nova was initially scheduled to start Thursday, but the Pirates opted to move everyone back a day when Wednesday’s game against Milwaukee was rained out, rather than do any shuffling with his rotation.
“This group right here has shown the ability to be flexible, to be resilient and also shown some benefits from an extra day (of rest) every now and then Russell Okung Jersey ,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said.
It didn’t pan out that way. Chad Kuhl, who started the opener against Arizona after warming up several times Wednesday when there was false hope that the game against Milwaukee would be played, got rocked by the Diamondbacks for eight runs in two-plus innings.
Nova is coming off two good starts, going 2-0 with a 1.54 ERA since he was removed from the disabled list (sprained finger).
On Saturday, he struggled with his curveball, but it didn’t stop him from allowing just one run and five hits in six innings of a 6-2 win over Cincinnati.
“Even though I walked a couple guys, the fastball command is better than what it was before I hit the DL,” Nova said. “I think I’ve been able to control it a bit better. I think that’s been the key.”
Nova is 1-1 with a 4.00 ERA in three career starts against the Diamondbacks.
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