T-Wolves out to snap 11-game skid vs. slumping Kings

NBA Basketball
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The Minnesota Timberwolves will attempt to end an 11-game losing streak when they visit the Sacramento Kings on Thursday night.

The struggling Timberwolves haven’t celebrated a victory since posting a 113-101 win over the San Antonio Spurs on Nov. 27.

Minnesota dropped to 0-3 on a four-game road trip when it fell 113-104 to the Golden State Warriors on Monday.

“It’s no secret, we’re in a funk right now,” Timberwolves coach Ryan Saunders said after the loss to the Warriors. “We’re still positive for the most part, but it hurts still.

“But we also need to understand, young team or not, we got to learn lessons in this league because you got to go through hard times to get to where you want to be. And we’re in a hard time.”

Minnesota has been without star center Karl-Anthony Towns (knee) for the past four setbacks and there hasn’t yet been a determination on whether he will return against the Kings.

In the eyes of small forward Andrew Wiggins, the absence of Towns wasn’t the reason for the latest loss.

“They played harder,” Wiggins said of the Warriors after the contest. “That was it. We missed easy shots, though. Shots we should have made, but for the most part they just played harder.”

Sacramento also is in a rut with four straight losses after falling 113-104 to the Houston Rockets on Monday in the opener of a three-game homestand.

Point guard De’Aaron Fox showed he is recovered from an ankle injury by matching his career best of 31 points.

Fox was instrumental in helping the Kings rebound from a 25-point, third-quarter deficit as he scored 19 points in the final quarter. However, he missed five free throws in the stanza — he was 4 of 9 overall — to partially stall the comeback effort.

The Kings have lost all four games since Fox returned. Forward Marvin Bagley III (thumb) has been back for seven games, and their presence has Sacramento coach Luke Walton ready to speed up the tempo.

“Now that Fox and Marvin are back — two of the faster players on our team and the league — we can start pushing pace again,” said Walton, “but we have to continue to realize that our defensive execution and execution in the half-court is important to us.”

Reserve sharpshooter Bogdan Bogdanovic (ankle) has missed the past three games. The Kings are 0-5 this season when he sits out.

Sacramento also is hoping shooting guard Buddy Hield (10 points versus Houston) can rediscover his stroke. Hield is 9-of-45 from the field — including 4 of 28 from 3-point range — over the past three games and is averaging just 11.6 points over the past five contests.

And while the Kings were putting together their strong fourth-quarter push against the Rockets, Hield never saw the court. He spent the entire final stanza on the bench.

“I played the guys that had it going. They earned the right to finish the game. They got us within striking distance,” Walton said. “It wasn’t a punishment at all. It was more, ‘Look, we’re a team and we’re trying to win out here and if these guys are going well, then we keep rolling with them’ and see if they can’t get it done.”

The teams split four meetings last season with the home club winning each time.

–Field Level Media

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