Kings facing two must-win games vs. Timberwolves


Down and out while wondering where it all went wrong when this past weekend began, the Sacramento Kings received a sudden bolt of energy Sunday and are back to crunching the numbers on playoff possibilities.

Up next for a Kings team that just ended a nine-game losing streak in convincing fashion are back-to-back winnable home games against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Sacramento never trailed Sunday against the Dallas Mavericks as De’Aaron Fox scored 30 points in a 121-107 victory on the road. The Kings began Monday five games out of the 10th spot in the Western Conference, which would give them a spot in the postseason play-in tournament.

Catching the 10th-place San Antonio Spurs, while also leapfrogging the New Orleans Pelicans, remains a tall task with 15 games remaining, but Sacramento figures to be playing with renewed passion this week, and the play-in concept is a big reason.

“Sometimes one game can turn things around,” Fox said. “For us, we dug ourselves really deep with losing nine games in a row and guys trying to find themselves and what they need to do. It was definitely a collective group effort (against the Mavericks).”

Such a convincing victory hardly was expected. Marvin Bagley III and Richaun Holmes both were out with injuries, with Hassan Whiteside making just his second start of the season. Whiteside responded with 12 points and a team-high 10 rebounds.

Harrison Barnes added 24 points, Terence Davis had 23 and Delon Wright added 13 for the Kings, who shot 49.4 percent from the field.

Now comes a matchup with the Timberwolves two weeks after the Kings fell 116-106 at Minnesota. That was one of just three victories for the Timberwolves over the past 10 games, but the season has gone so poorly that the 10-game run resembles progress for a club with a .259 winning percentage.

The Timberwolves’ latest defeat came Sunday in a 124-105 setback at Los Angeles against the Clippers, who made half of their 42 3-point attempts.

Minnesota rookie Anthony Edwards scored 23 points in Sunday’s defeat. Karl-Anthony Towns had 16 points, including a monster dunk in the second quarter, but the big man was just 5 of 15 from the field and 1 of 6 from 3-point range.

Towns looked at the stat sheet when his postgame press call began Sunday, crumpled the piece of paper into a ball and flipped it over his shoulder while rolling his eyes.

“We just didn’t play hard enough and have that sense of urgency,” Towns said. “We came in cool acting like we were supposed to get two (victories) in a row. It just wasn’t the right way to approach the game.”

Three other Timberwolves scored in double figures in the loss, including 13 off the bench from second-year big man Naz Reid.

–Field Level Media

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