This being a chronic issue, Timberwolves coach Chris Finch has probably already tired of the subject:
The Wolves entered the second of back-to-back games in Sacramento on Wednesday hoping to win consecutive games for the first time since the team opened the season with two victories. Before the game Finch talked about what it would take to get such a streak going, getting consecutive wins for his first time as head coach.
Desperation. "I firmly believe in the NBA, the most desperate team wins a lot of the nights,'' Finch said.
Guess the Wolves weren't desperate enough. Or, for long enough.
For the 14th straight time this season Minnesota followed a win with a loss, 128-125 to the Kings at Golden 1 Center, in a game with Marc Lore in attendance. Lore, along with Alex Rodriguez, has entered into an agreement to purchase the Wolves.
Here's what he saw: A Wolves team that was up 10 with 5½ minutes to play after Karl-Anthony Towns scored. A team that was still up, 125-121, after Towns hit a three-pointer with 51.7 seconds left.
A team that was outscored 7-0 the rest of the way.
"One too many mistakes,'' said Towns, who scored 26 points but whose drive for a shot in the closing moments — he thought there was contact — went in and out with 1.8 seconds left and the Wolves down a point. "It's frustrating,'' Towns said. "Regardless of how the game went, the ball was in my hands for the win.''
In a game that mirrored Tuesday's Wolves win, the Wolves played little defense early but roared back from down 11 at the half with a 39-25 third quarter to go up three entering the fourth. Leading the way was a Wolves bench that scored 61 points, with Naz Reid scoring 24.
Up three entering the fourth, the Wolves pushed to a 112-101 lead early in the third after Anthony Edwards (16 points) scored.
Towns' basket with 5:29 left had the Wolves up 10.
Then: Disaster, in the form of a 12-0 Kings run, with Tyrese Haliburton hitting two threes and Buddy Hield one, giving the Kings a 116-115 with 3:26 left.
Game on. De'Aaron Fox hit a free throw with 2:41 left to put the Kings up two, but two free throws by Towns and Josh Okogie's score after his steal put the Wolves up two.
Harrison Barnes scored to tie the game with 1:53 left. But both Towns and Russell hit threes around a Barnes 10-foot hook, putting the Wolves up four with 51.7 seconds left.
Fox hit two free throws. After Russell missed a three, Hield's three-pointer put the Kings up 126-125 with 8.8 seconds left.
Towns' drive out of a timeout went in … and out.
Afterward Finch said this latest attempt at a winning streak was different. "Tonight we played well enough to win it,'' he said. "We just didn't play smart enough to win it.''
But the fact remains that, with the exception of the third quarter, the Wolves didn't play defense. Fox and Hield, who had 29 points, combined for 59. The Kings shot 58.1%, made 17 of 33 three-pointers and outscored the Wolves 25-18 at the free-throw line. The Wolves, who got double-figure scoring from six players, scored 125 points, shot nearly 53% and made 15 three-pointers and lost.
"Very deflating,'' Reid said. "We had big mistakes in the time we weren't supposed to have mistakes. I feel like we gave them the game. I feel like we could've beat them.''
The fact is, the Wolves could not end their nearly season-long streak without a winning streak.
"It's something we can do,'' Reid said. "That's why it's even more difficult and tough to just take in.''
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.