The Minnesota Timberwolves will aim to stretch their season-best winning streak to four games when they host the injury-ravaged Miami Heat on Monday night.
The Timberwolves will attempt to move above .500 for the first time since Oct. 30 against a Heat squad that will be without star Jimmy Butler for the third straight game.
Minnesota averaged 122.3 points while winning the final three contests of a four-game trip. The Timberwolves defeated the Philadelphia 76ers 112-109 in Saturday’s excursion-ending game.
The fourth quarter was shaky as Minnesota saw a 15-point lead with under nine minutes to play trimmed to one with 29.1 seconds left before holding on.
“There’s positives and negatives,” Timberwolves center Rudy Gobert said afterward. “I’m glad that we won. I really want to say that. But obviously it’s a little sour when you close the game like this.”
Minnesota coach Chris Finch was pleased with the escape but not with the late-game play.
“We were able to hold on, make enough shots, make a couple of big plays to win a game like that,” Finch said. “It shouldn’t have come down to that.”
Minnesota’s Anthony Edwards had 25 points, marking the third time he has scored at least 25 in the past four games. He leads the Timberwolves with a 22.1 scoring average this season.
Karl-Anthony Towns is Minnesota’s second-leading scorer with a 21.3 average. But he had just 12 points Saturday after averaging 29.5 over the previous two games.
The Timberwolves will look to beat Miami for the eighth time in the past nine meetings and might be catching the Heat at the right time.
Butler is back in Miami due to his knee injury, and sharpshooter Tyler Herro (ankle) is expected to miss his eighth consecutive game. Gabe Vincent (knee) is moving closer to a return, but fellow guard Victor Oladipo (knee) remains without a timetable.
The absences hurt on Sunday night as the Heat were pounded 113-87 by the Cleveland Cavaliers to fall to 0-3 on a four-game trip. Miami has lost its past six road contests.
Coach Erik Spoelstra readily acknowledged his club couldn’t compete at Cleveland’s level. The 87 points were a season low.
“It just didn’t feel like we had a lot of juice or pop tonight,” Spoelstra said afterward. “We’re not making any excuses for anything, but we were not able to make those efforts, and they really capitalized on all that.”
Miami trailed 95-64 after three quarters of a contest that guard Max Strus termed “a good old-fashioned (butt) kicking.”
Bam Adebayo scored 21 points to lead the Heat and Caleb Martin added 17. But Miami shot just 38.8 percent from the field and a porous 6 of 31 (19.4 percent) from 3-point range. The Heat also were outrebounded 49-30.
“We have to put this in the appropriate box,” Spoelstra said. “We’re not happy about it, and we’re really disappointed with it, but we have a game in less than 24 hours, and we need to focus on that and put together a much better game on the road.”
Veteran point guard Kyle Lowry had just nine points on 2-of-10 shooting from the field in 31 minutes against Cleveland. The 36-year-old played 51 minutes two nights earlier in a 107-106 overtime loss to the Washington Wizards and scored a season-high 24 points.
–Field Level Media