Preview: Minnesota Timberwolves (17-22) @ Washington Wizards (9-31)

Jan 23, 2013; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Washington Wizards head coach Randy Wittman watches the action during the second half against the Utah Jazz at EnergySolutions Arena. The Jazz won 92-88. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Winners of 5 of their last 8, with quality wins over OKC, Atlanta, Orlando, Denver and Portland and single digit losses to the Clippers and Jazz — these Washington Wizards aren’t just another Randy Wittman-coached pushover.

Wizards probable starting lineup:

PG AJ Price

SG Bradley Beal

SF Martell Webster

PF Nene

C Emeka Okafor

Familiar faces abound as former Wolves coach Wittman and the oft-injured Webster have been having a good go of it in Washington. Webster has been shooting over 40% from 3 on the season and has been starting since the second game of December, while Wittman has survived thus far mostly without franchise point guard John Wall, almost doubling their league-worst win total (5 to 9) since his return, January 12th.

Wall has averaged 25 minutes since his return and could see his first start tonight against the Wolves. He is averaging 14 points, 7 assists and a steal on 41% shooting since his return. He has missed all 5 of his 3-point attempts and is a career 23% shooter from 3.

After missing much of the early part of this season and being limited as he deals with plantar fasciitis, Nene has made a difference for the Wizards when he can stay on the court. They are outscoring their opponents by 20 points (per 100 possessions) when he is on the court and are a -12 without him.

Likewise, Okafor has been playing better as well, pulling down 12, 13, and 17 rebounds over his last 3 games and shooting 48% from the field over that same span.

Wolves probable starting lineup:

PG Ricky Rubio

SG Luke Ridnour

SF Andrei Kirilenko

PF Derrick Williams

C Greg Stiemsma

Both Nikola Pekovic and Alexey Shved did not make the trip to DC and will miss games against the Wizards and Bobcats.

Stiemsma continues to make his case to be out of a job when Pek returns, as he was a -11 in 17 minutes against the Nets Wednesday while playing-for-his next 10-day contract, Chris Johnson, had 12 points, 6 rebounds and 3 blocks in 24 minutes.

Williams hit all 4 of his field goals during that 3rd quarter run where the Wolves pulled within 2 points of the Nets. He and Rubio both failed to play in the 4th quarter. Terry Porter’s rotations have been more askew than usual of late. Perhaps the talk he had with Rubio will reap rewards on this road trip.

Topics: Minnesota Timberwolves, Preview, Washington Wizards

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