The Minnesota Timberwolves and Charlotte Bobcats entered the All-Star break with some momentum, but only one team has kept it going.
Minnesota will try to keep its hold on a possible playoff berth on Wednesday night when it faces a surging Charlotte squad looking for its season high-tying third straight victory.
Minnesota (25-28) won three of four games entering the break and appeared to have rebounded from a dismal 2-10 stretch. But the Timberwolves were sloppy in their return to the court Tuesday, committing seven first-quarter turnovers and never leading in a 112-100 loss to Washington.
Despite the loss, Minnesota remained in sole possession of the eighth and final Western Conference playoff berth but are just one-half game ahead of the Los Angeles Clippers, Golden State and New Orleans all tied for ninth.
"What you saw was the vacation rest," Minnesota's Kevin Garnett said. "We didn't take care of the ball. I probably had like three or four turnovers myself. A little jump, eagerness. Once we got going, we settled in and started to do some things."
Garnett recorded 26 points and 13 rebounds for his 10th straight double-double and NBA-high 46th this season. The All-Star forward is averaging 25.6 points in five career meetings with the Bobcats - his best mark versus any opponent.
Second-leading scorer Ricky Davis has also posted his best career average against Charlotte (20-33), scoring 21.0 points in nine contests. He tallied 24 points against the Wizards.
The Timberwolves have allowed three straight opponents to shoot more than 50 percent, but hope for a better effort when they return to the Target Center to open a season-high five-game homestand. Minnesota, looking for its fourth straight home win, is 16-9 there this season.
The Timberwolves have won both all-time meetings with Charlotte at home and have taken three of the five overall matchups. Garnett scored 32 points and grabbed 14 rebounds to lead Minnesota to a 102-96 win on Jan. 1 in Charlotte.
The Bobcats avoided a season-high fifth straight loss with a victory over Chicago heading into the All-Star break. Charlotte followed that with a 104-100 win over New Orleans on Tuesday in which it tied a season-high with 10 3-pointers and sank 18 of 20 from the free-throw line.
Raymond Felton scored nine of his 21 points in the fourth quarter and had nine assists to help Charlotte move within one victory of its longest winning streak of the season, set Jan. 10-13.
"We're starting to learn how to finish games now," said Felton, who is averaging 18.0 points in three career meetings with Minnesota - his second-best mark against any team. "If that was us last year, we probably wouldn't have pulled that out."
Gerald Wallace added 21 points while Emeka Okafor notched 16 points and 15 rebounds in a physical game that included a shoving match and five technical fouls.
Charlotte is trying to snap a four-game road slide during which it has averaged just 85.0 points while allowing 102.5. The Bobcats will likely continue to be short-handed as Jeff McInnis (ankle), Brevin Knight (groin), Sean May (knee) and Othella Harrington (knee) all missed Tuesday's contest and their status for this game isn't immediately known.