There may be good news for the skidding Minnesota Timberwolves, who look to halt a season-long 12-game losing streak when they return home to host the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday.
They've won three of their last four games against the Hawks at the Target Center and the Hawks are missing five regulars.
The Timberwolves could use a collective hug. Minnesota has not won since Jan. 9 against Portland and their streak reached a dozen games on Monday with a 113-109 loss at Sacramento. The team has been competitive during the streak with just four of the losses coming by double-digits. One loss came in overtime, another by two points.
That's not good enough for Minnesota coach Ryan Saunders, who has seen his team drop all the way to 14th in the NBA Western Conference.
"We're scratching and clawing and it's tough," Saunders told reporters after Monday's game. "It's not always positive. We're not in this for marginal victories. We're in this to improve."
The Timberwolves continue to ride Karl-Anthony Towns. He had 22 points, 10 rebounds and six assists against the Kings. It was the 257th double-double of his career, which moved him past Kevin Love and into second place on the all-time franchise list. Kevin Garnett is No. 1 with 607. He is averaging 26.9 points and 10.8 rebounds this season.
Andrew Wiggins was held to 10 points on Monday and scored only 13 in the previous game against the Los Angeles Clippers. The two subpar performances come one game after Wiggins scored 36 against Sacramento. He's averaging 22.4 points.
Minnesota will find a wounded Atlanta team waiting for them. The Hawks played without five of its regulars on Monday, a 123-115 loss to the Boston Celtics, and were forced to use a smaller lineup that had little cohesion. Evan Turner even got into his first game since Dec. 28.
The lack of familiarity was evident. Point guard Trae Young matched his career high with nine turnovers, many of them on passes to teammates who weren't in the right place or unprepared to catch them.
"There were a lot of times when I was jumping in the air and passing, expecting someone to be in the corner, and it just wasn't there," Young said. "I turned it over way too many times. That's a big part of why we lost."
Young injured his ankle in Saturday's game but was able to play and still scored 34 points. Atlanta was without Cam Reddish (concussion), De'Andre Hunter (left ankle sprain), Bruno Fernando (left calf strain), DeAndre' Bembry (right hand neuritis) and Alex Len (right hip flexor strain). Coach Lloyd Pierce was already without veterans Jabari Parker (shoulder impingement) and Chandler Parsons (whiplash).
With a short bench, the Hawks must rely heavily on Young, John Collins and Kevin Huerter. Collins had 22 points and 11 rebounds in the loss, his 13th double-double. Huerter had to start at forward and scored 23, which included five 3-pointers.
Minnesota may be without Allen Crabbe, who has missed the last three games with a left knee subluxation. The Timberwolves acquired Crabbe from the Hawks less than two weeks ago.
Minnesota will be trying to sweep the series for the first time since 2016. The Timberwolves defeated Atlanta 125-113 on Nov. 25. The Hawks won both meetings last season in overtime.