MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – The Minnesota Timberwolves have endured five straight losing seasons. The New York Knicks have been worse with nine in a row.
If there’s any hope to end those streaks this season, it hinges on new power forwards for both.
Michael Beasley turned in the best game of his career his last time out for the Timberwolves, and will match up with Amar’e Stoudemire and the Knicks on Friday night at the Target Center.
Beasley and Stoudemire switched conferences and joined moribund teams after playing for more successful clubs in their previous stops. Miami had winning records in Beasley’s two seasons there while Stoudemire only had one losing season in eight with Phoenix.
They were dealt for varying reasons. Beasley’s lack of maturity was a factor in his move to Minnesota (2-7), while the Suns deemed Stoudemire not worthy of a contract close to $100 million that he eventually signed with New York (3-5).
Beasley is leading the Timberwolves with an 18.1 scoring average. Stoudemire tops the Knicks at 21.1 points per game.
The forwards have met three times previously, with Stoudemire averaging 16.0 points and 11.7 boards and Beasley at 11.0 and 6.3 in those games.
The Timberwolves ended a six-game skid with Wednesday’s 98-89 win at Sacramento. Beasley made 17 of 31 shots and scored a career-high 42 points after entering the contest averaging 14.1.
“His gifts are obviously there, Michael has to figure out where his opportunities are in our system,” coach Kurt Rambis said. “He got it going early and you go through those situations as a scorer when the basket looks so big.
“He’s a tough matchup with his height, length, size and offensive capabilities. He’s one of those unique players who can score in a myriad of ways.”
The Knicks, meanwhile, have lost a season-high three straight after falling 122-117 to Golden State on Wednesday. Stoudemire had a season-high 33 points and 10 rebounds.
“We just can’t get comfortable with losing. That’s the mentality that we can’t have,” Stoudemire said. “So we’ve got to make sure that we understand how important it is to look at film and look at ourselves in the mirror and try to improve individually, and then ultimately we’ll get better as a team. Hopefully we all as players will understand that and move on.”
A major problem for New York is its reliance on 3-pointers. The Knicks have attempted a league-high 201, but are shooting 32.8 percent to rank close to the bottom of the league.
“We just have to get better, it is a work in progress, and again I thought we worked hard,” coach Mike D’Antoni said. “We will get there.”
Neither team has played well defensively, but both have shown improvement in blocked shots. After both ranked in the bottom three in that category last season, the Knicks have a league-leading 58 in 2010-11 and Minnesota is not far behind with 46 – including 22 by newcomer Darko Milicic.
Minnesota and New York split two meetings last season, and the Timberwolves have won five of the last six home matchups.
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