The Atlanta Hawks (20-12) have lost two games in a row, and will try to get the train back on the tracks Tuesday night against the Minnesota Timberwolves (15-15). According to the AJC’s Chris Vivlamore, the Hawks held a team meeting Sunday, just a day after choking away a 20-point lead against the struggling Boston Celtics.
The Hawks have struggled holding big leads this season. Go past Saturday’s collapse to the December 26th matchup, with the Detroit Pistons. The Hawks were outscored 39-20, by the Pistons, in the fourth quarter. Fortunately, the Hawks salvaged a win, but it took double-overtime. That is 10 extra minutes of stressful basketball. By the end of the season, those minutes add up. It will be imperative as we move closer to the season’s halfway point, that the Hawks close teams out, when they get up double digits.
The Minnesota Timberwolves are coming off a tight 102-97 loss to Portland, on Saturday. The T-Wolves are .500 on the season and 2-2 in their last four games. The loss to the Trailblazers was the first game Minnesota played without forward Kevin Love, who refractured his hand in Thursday’s win at Denver. Minnesota wraps up a two-game home stand with Atlanta, before heading on a four-game road trip that will take them to OKC, New Orleans, San Antonio and Dallas.
Tuesday’s game will be the first of two meetings between the two franchises this season. Minnesota will make the return trip to Atlanta, on January 21st. That will be the MLK Jr. Day game at Philips Arena.
Removing Kevin Love from equation leaves Nikola Pekovic as the Wolves leading scoring. Pekovic is averaging 15.9 points per game, and netted 22 points in the Portland loss. Pekovic is also the team’s leading rebounder without K-Love.
All signs point to a Hawks victory on Tuesday. Anything less would be very disheartening for a team that needs to snap a two-game losing streak. The Hawks will play four of their next five games on the road, including a Wednesday night contest in Cleveland.
Game time: 8:00 EST