The Timberwolves haven't liked to play defense much this season. They also haven't liked the losing that results from not playing defense.
If only there was a team they could face who would allow them not to play much defense while still having a good chance of winning.
Enter the Sacramento Kings, who lost once previously to the Wolves and who were hosting the Wolves in a back to back set of games in Sacramento this week.
The Wolves prevailed 134-120 in a game that started out as a track meet and turned into an easy victory down the stretch as Minnesota made just enough defensive stops in the second half to pull away.
"We kept saying to the guys the first team that wants to sit down and guard somebody is going to win the game," coach Chris Finch said.
That turned out to be the Wolves, who gave up 43 to the Kings in the first quarter but allowed just 17 in the fourth.
"I don't think much defense was actually played," center Karl-Anthony Towns said.
Towns played the starring rolein a decisive 14-0 run fourth-quarter run with 26 points, 18 rebounds and five assists. D'Angelo Russell had 26 of his 28 points in the first half while Anthony Edwards also had 28. Harrison Barnes and Moe Harkless had 20 for Sacramento.
"We got anything we wanted on the offensive end, and for the most part, they were getting anything they wanted on the offensive end as well," guard Josh Okogie said. "But we were able to corral together — coup up — a series of stops and I think that was what propelled us over the top."
Both teams entered with two of the worst defenses in the league, and each showed why from the start of the night. The first quarter resembled more a pickup game as neither team could miss nor prevent the other team from getting open shots. Edwards had one of his best offensive quarters in going 6-for-8 for 16 points. That total included four threes.
The problem early for the Wolves was the Kings were 16 of 26 and 7 of 11 from three-point range. While Edwards couldn't miss in the opening minutes, Russell picked up the torch later in the first quarter into the second. Russell helped the Wolves erase an eight-point deficit early in the second with 26 first-half points, 6 of 7 from three-point range.
The Wolves finally decided to clamp down defensively as the game went on. Okogie and Jaden McDaniels, two of the Wolves' best defensive players, led that charge while Towns provided the offense. The Wolves were down 115-114 with 6 minutes, 5 seconds to play before going on a 14-0 run. During that run Towns scored seven points and had two assists.
"They went super small and we didn't necessarily want to match them, but we just started punishing them inside with Kat," Finch said.
The Wolves won going away.
"That was the game right there," Towns said. "We knew we had a chance to put them away, especially when they used their last timeout, so it was the first time, I think, this season, where we had a chance to lay the hammer, and we did it. We did a great job of taking the game."
Before the game many of the players posted to social media their reactions to the murder and manslaughter convictions of Derek Chauvin. Towns said the news of the verdict was a "relief" and he was "excited" to play Tuesday night. After the game, the Wolves dedicated the game ball to the family of George Floyd.
"For all of us we all felt this game was bigger than basketball, you know?" Towns said. "This was a moment that wasn't meant for us. This was meant for our city and for George Floyd's family. I think everyone in America right now is grieving with them and sending our prayers, blessings and love towards them. They need it."
The Star Tribune did not travel for this game. This article was written using the television broadcast and video interviews before and/or after the game.