|5:00 PM PT6:00 PM MT7:00 PM CT8:00 PM ET1:00 GMT9:00 6:00 PM MST8:00 PM EST5:00 UAE (+1)02:0020:00 ET7:00 PM CTNaN:� , December 26, 2018
United Center, Chicago, Illinois Attendance: 21,852
Timberwolves confident heading into game at Chicago
Minnesota Timberwolves at Chicago Bulls
- Minnesota picked up a win in Oklahoma City, 114-112, on Sunday after losing five straight on the road. The Timberwolves are 3-13 (.188) on the road this season, tied with the Cavs for the third-worst road record in the NBA.
- The Bulls have won two straight games for the first time this season -- a 90-80 win over the Magic and a 112-92 win over the Cavaliers. The Bulls have played in 19 games this season where either they or their opponent (or both) score under 100 points -- only the Grizzlies (21) have played in more such games.
- Since former Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau joined the Timberwolves in 2016-17, Minnesota is 4-1 against Chicago. The T-Wolves have held the Bulls to 99.4 points per game in that time, their fourth best against any single opponent, while also holding the Bulls to 44.2 percent from the field, their third best against any opponent.
- Andrew Wiggins dropped a season-high 30 points against the Thunder on Sunday, going 11-for-20 (.550) from the field. He is averaging 19.6 points while shooting 46.6 percent from the field this December after averaging 14.4 points and shooting 34.4 percent in November.
- Lauri Markkanen has had back-to-back 30-point games, hitting at least four threes in each game. He is the third Bulls player ever with at least 30 points and four threes in consecutive games, along with Ben Gordon in March 2009 and Jamal Crawford in December 2003.
- Derrick Rose is 3-0 and has averaged 18.0 points in his career against the Bulls, dropping 22 on them on November 24. Rose is averaging 18.5 points this season, on pace to be his most since his 2011-12 season with the Bulls (21.8).
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CHICAGO -- The road hasn't been overly kind to the Minnesota Timberwolves this season.
The Timberwolves have lost 13 of their 16 games away from home heading into Wednesday's game against the Chicago Bulls at the United Center. Minnesota finds itself in a stretch of games on which the Timberwolves will play four of their next five games on the road.
But if the Timberwolves were looking for a confidence booster for the upcoming slate of games, finding a way to pull out a 114-112 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday, which snapped a 12-game road losing streak against Western Conference opponents.
Alan Wiggins was a major reason why Minnesota was finally able to snap the losing skid as he scored 30 points and hit the game-winner with 14.3 seconds remaining.
Now as the Timberwolves prepare to face the Bulls on Wednesday, Wiggins will attempt to keep Minnesota moving in the right direction. His performance against the Thunder provided evidence to Wiggins' teammates that when Wiggins plays well, good things happen.
"We can be beyond great," forward Robert Covington said after Sunday's victory, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
After the 12 straight Western Conference road losses, the victory on Sunday lifted the spirits of a team that hasn't seen things come easy all year. And as much as finding a way to win away from home meant, finding a way to win period may have provided an emotional lift.
"We're just tired of losing," said forward Taj Gibson, who will face his former team on Wednesday in Chicago. "We felt (Sunday) that we were a better team than what we showed. Guys were real resilient."
Now, the Timberwolves (15-18) will face a Chicago team that, like Minnesota, has experienced its fair share of difficulty this season. Chicago (9-25) will carry a two-game winning streak into Wednesday's game.
Despite losing six of its last 10 games, Chicago has managed to string together consecutive double-digit victories over the Orlando Magic and Cleveland Cavaliers together. Like the Timberwolves, confidence could bode well for a team that has struggled all season with injuries and that will continue to play without starting forward Bobby Portis.
But after putting together its first two-game winning streak of the season, Chicago will look to continue to play the brand of basketball that has brought some enjoyment back to the Bulls.
Chicago's latest victory came in a 112-92 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday in which Lauri Markkanen scored 31 points and has now scored 30 points in back-to-back games for the first time in his career.
"We're having fun playing basketball," Markkanen said after the victory on Sunday, according to the Chicago Tribune.
The Bulls are now 4-6 under Jim Boylen, who took over the team after Fred Hoiberg was fired following a disappointing start to the season. The Bulls have managed to come together after a closed-door meeting with players and coaches that Markkanen said improved the chemistry of the team.
Boylen has taken a direct approach to his team and said that's the only way the Bulls will continue to improve.
"We're direct and honest every day," Boylen said, according to the Tribune. "We've kept our message consistent of what we believe in and what I hope we can become. You have to give the guys credit."
Updated December 25, 2018