You don't have to tell Kevin Love how hard it has become for the Timberwolves to win games in Memphis. Since he joined the team the Wolves have gone 1-5 here, with four of those five losses coming by 10 or more points. Overall, the Wolves have won just three of their last 14 games here.
Heck, after the Wolves had defeated Denver the other night one of the first things Love talked about was finally getting a win in Memphis, breaking an 0-5 streak here.
Well. Here is another opportunity. Kent Youngblood here. I'll be covering tonight's game and tomorrow's in Charlotte.
The Grizzlies are getting healthier. Zach Randolph -- who has usually been a difficult matchup for the Wolves -- is back. He injured his knee Jan. 1 and didn't return to action until March 16 against Toronto. He has scored in double figures in every game, picking up his first double-double since his return in the Grizzlies' impressive victory against the Lakers in Los Angeles Sunday.
Here is Love on Randolph and the Grizzlies: "He's a great player, " Love said. "He's a guy I grew up watching, in Portland, during his days (with the Blazers). He's a lefty, a little bit unorthodox. He doesn't run the best, doesn't jump the greatest. But he's just as effective as any four-man in the league. So he's always a tough matchup."
It's hard to say what Memphis team the Wolves will see tonight. Will it be the one that had lost three straight and five of six before the Lakers game? Or the one that looked pretty darned good against the Lakers? Memphis enters this game sixth in the Western Conference, a half-game ahead of Utah and Houston and just 3 1/2 games ahead of the Wolves. Which only makes this another must-win for the Wolves if they want to keep their playoff hopes alive.
So why the problems vs. Memphis? "I'm not exactly sure," Love said. "It seems like we get In a battle with them going up and down the floor. We need to try to take away their points in the paint, try to take away their points in transition. If we do that we'll give ourselves a chance."
As you probably already know, neither Nikola Pekovix nor J.J. Barea are on the trip. That means Luke Ridnour will have to play big minutes again. Ridnour is battling a sore groin, which he injured in Oklahoma City. He played through it, scoring a season-high 25 points against Denver. Today Ridnour said he came through that without aggravating the injury. He is getting loads of treatment . "The key is not letting it get worse," he said. "You just pray you feel good."
One other note. Tonight is St. Jude's night at FedExForum, part of Hoops for St. Jude, an NBA program that benefits the Memphis-based children's research hospital. Kevin Love is a part of that effort, and he will be meeting children who are patients, and their families, prior to the game. This is a charity Love feels strongly about, and I'll have a bit more on this in tomorrow's paper.
That's about it for now. I'll get back to you prior to the game. Have a good day. By the way, it's 83 degrees here in Memphis today.