Who says a NBA Monday-night game in January doesn't mean anything?

Tonight's Wolves-Dallas game at Target Center means plenty.

Both teams enter with 11-26 record so the loser ends up in the Western Conference's last place all alone.

"Hey, you look at our record, sam as Minnesota's?" Dallas coach Rick Carlisle asked after his team's morning shootaround today. "Pretty meaningful game tonight if you really look at it. Both teams should be very motivated. I saw how they lost (to Utah) the other night, a very unusual set of circumstances down the stretch.They're going to come out hard and we're coming off two home losses, so we're going to have to come out the same way."

Funny thing is, tonight's winner will be just three games behind Portland and Sacramento for the West's eighth and final playoff spot.

"Well, we're all in it, for sure," Carlisle said.

Each team has the same record, but they've gotten here in different ways. The Wolves are 9-12 in games when they've had a doube-digit lead, the Mavericks are 10-5 in such games.

Mavs superstar Dirk Nowitzki attributes the difference to experience.

Just in the last week, the Wolves have gift-wrapped victories to Portland and Utah, and don't forget another home loss to Houston before that as well. The Jazz scored the final 11 points Saturday and won 94-92.

"We have to be aware, but we don't have to be afraid," Wolves guard Ricky Rubio said about losing late leads in new and remarkable ways. "We know what's going on and we have to fix it."