Tied with Golden State and Dallas for most road victories in the NBA even after Wednesday's overtime loss at Orlando, the Timberwolves return to play Detroit on Friday at Target Center, where at 0-5 they remain one of only two winless teams at home.
Go figure …
Or as Orlando coach Scott Skiles said, "Interesting. I don't know how you predict that. It's no joke their record on the road. They're playing well."
There are possible explanations why the Wolves are 5-2 on the road and have won games at playoff contenders Chicago, Atlanta and Miami but have yet to win a game at Target Center. Even two teams with a combined 3-20 record — New Orleans and the Los Angeles Lakers — each have won a game at home while the Wolves wait on theirs. The only other team without a home victory is 0-12 Philadelphia.
Losses to Portland and the Heat came after emotion carried players and coaches through season-opening victories at Los Angeles against the Lakers and at Denver and a memorial service in the days after coach and president of basketball operations Flip Saunders died Oct. 25. The other three home losses came during the four-game stretch starting point-guard Ricky Rubio missed because of a hamstring strain.
No matter the circumstances, such disparity is mystifying, particularly if you believe young teams are not supposed to win on the road.
"I can't explain it," Wolves interim head coach Sam Mitchell said before his team went out with Rubio back in the lineup and beat the Heat on Tuesday in Miami just 12 days after they had lost to the same team at home. "I'm not even going to try to think that hard about it. I see we're just preparing well.
'For whatever reason, we're playing better [on the road] than we are at home. Not that we've played awful at home, we just haven't been able to win some games there. I'll let you guys figure it out. I'll worry about tonight and figure out if we can win the game tonight."
They did Tuesday, beatingMiami 103-91 thanks to Tuesday's lopsided 41-22 fourth quarter. Mitchell's best attempt at rationalizing the difference between the two records: His team spent days and days on the road during their preseason schedule, playing three games in six days across Canada as well as a two-game trip to Memphis and Madison, Wis., where they played Milwaukee.
Mitchell theorizes his team might have found a comfort level traveling together and playing in different arenas.
"I'm not too sure why," Wolves young star Andrew Wiggins said. "Maybe it's because on the road it's us against everybody. Maybe it gives us another step up in our game. One of the joys of playing on the road is that everyone is against you and all you got is your team."
His presence or absence notwithstanding, Rubio is as puzzled as anybody.
"We've been talking about that and it's weird because usually a young team feels comfortable playing at home with the home crowd," Rubio said. "Then on the road, we feel with experience you win games. But it seems the opposite. It's something we started the season 2-0 on the road and it kept going and we're ready to win road games now."
Now they come home to play three consecutive games against the Pistons, Atlanta and a Philadelphia team that is winless everywhere this season and hasn't won a game since last March.
"I don't know, man, maybe we need to move Minnesota to a road game or start wearing those blue jerseys or something," Wolves guard Zach LaVine said, referring to the team's away uniforms. "We play good on the road. We just need to move it to the home games as well."
Is it possible the Wolves brought something home with them on the flight back from Florida and become the team at home that they've been away from Target Center?
"Well, you tell me and I will try to make it happen," Rubio said. "It's sometimes more mental than anything else, but I'm positive that we're going to get home and start winning games."