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7:00 PM PT8:00 PM MT9:00 PM CT10:00 PM ET3:00 GMT11:00 8:00 PM MST10:00 PM EST7:00 UAE (+1)04:0022:00 ET9:00 PM CTNaN:� , December 12, 2018
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Timberwolves look for defense to step up at Kings

According to STATS
According to STATS

Minnesota Timberwolves at Sacramento Kings

  1. The Kings won their first matchup with the Timberwolves this season, 121-110, in Sacramento -- Minnesota swept the season series in 2017-18. Former college teammates Karl-Anthony Towns and Willie Cauley-Stein led their teams in points with 39 and 25, respectively.
  2. The Timberwolves lost to the Warriors, 116-108, in Oakland on Monday, their second straight loss to open a four-game road trip. Minnesota went 0-5 on the only other road trip of multiple games they have made this season.
  3. The Kings held the Bulls to 89 points in Chicago on Monday, the fewest points they have allowed all season. The 108-89 win was Sacramento's seventh win in ten games against the Eastern Conference. The Kings have seven wins in 16 games against the Western Conference.
  4. Karl-Anthony Towns went 1-for-4 from behind the arc against the Warriors, giving him a made three in 27 of 27 games this season. Justin Holiday, Damian Lillard, Khris Middleton, and James Harden are the only other players to have made a three-pointer in every game this season (min. 10 games played).
  5. De'Aaron Fox stuffed the stat sheet against the Bulls, scoring 25 points with four three pointers made while adding six assists and four steals. Fox leads all players from the 2017 draft in career assists with 516.
  6. The Timberwolves and Kings are currently fourth in their respective divisions. Sacramento has not won their division in 15 straight seasons, the second-longest active streak in the Western Conference. Minnesota's division-title drought is at 14 seasons, the third-longest active streak in the West.

SACRAMENTO -- The Minnesota Timberwolves hope to return to their previously successful style of defense when they seek to end a two-game losing streak Wednesday night against the Sacramento Kings.

The Timberwolves had won nine of 12 in the wake of the Jimmy Butler trade to Philadelphia before losing their way defensively in 113-105 and 116-108 losses to Portland and Golden State, respectively, to open a four-game Western swing.

Minnesota was done in by the Trail Blazers' 47.0-percent shooting on Saturday and the Warriors' 19 3-pointers on Monday.

Before those two games, the Timberwolves had held 11 of 12 opponents to 104 points or fewer, including five to under 100.

"We are not where we want to be, but we are definitely improving," Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau insisted to reporters after the loss to the Warriors. "We have been in the middle of the pack in terms of points allowed, but now we are starting to creep into the Top 10. I think a lot of it is getting deflections and we wouldn't come up with the ball. I think now we are starting to come up with the ball and our reaction to the ball is a lot better.

"Dario (Saric) and Taj (Gibson) has added a lot of toughness to the team, and I think that has helped. Karl-Anthony (Towns) has gained valuable experience and has gotten a lot better. We have some pieces now to play tough defense."

Defense was an issue in five straight losses that led directly into the Butler trade on Nov. 12. The fifth of those losses came at Sacramento, with the Kings scoring 29 or more points in each quarter of a 121-110 win.

The Timberwolves gave up 111 or more points in nine straight games, losing seven of them, before pulling the trigger on the trade.

In the Kings, they will once again see a vastly improved offensive team that already has gone over 120 points eight times this season.

It occurred only once all of last year.

The leader of the attack has been De'Aaron Fox, who recorded a 16-point, 10-assist double-double in the earlier win over the Timberwolves.

He worked his magic on the Chicago Bulls on Monday, going for 25 points in a 108-89 win that capped a 3-1 trip for the Kings.

The victory concluded a run in which the Kings faced the Phoenix Suns, Cleveland Cavaliers and Bulls, three of the losingest teams in the NBA, over a four-game stretch.

They now embark on a rough 24-day span in which they will see the Timberwolves, Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Lakers twice each, with Oklahoma City, Denver and Portland among those interspersed.

"We're in the West," Kings big man Willie Cauley-Stein noted. "It's always difficult in the West."

Not always. The Timberwolves catch a break in the next 17 days, with two matchups with the Kings mixed in with contests against the Suns, Bulls and Atlanta Hawks.

Minnesota swept the season series from Sacramento last year, winning by an average of 15.3 points.

Updated December 11, 2018

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