There wasn’t much to say after this one. The Minnesota Timberwolves led the Sacramento Kings, a team playing its fifth game in seven nights, 31-18 in the first quarter, but lost the game 123-117. The defense hasn’t come back together, and the team is running out of time to fix it before the end of the year.

“Well, the end of the first quarter, after we got up…we let up; didn’t take much for those guys to get going, and the first five minutes of the second quarter was 21-11,” said head coach and president of basketball operations Tom Thibodeau. “When you get shooters, and you let them knock threes down, they’re hard to turn off once they get going.”

Buddy Hield finished with 22 points, shooting 4-of-6 from three-point range. Ty Lawson (21), Langston Galloway (17) and Arron Afflalo (16) had double-digits off the bench. Minnesota once led this game by 16 points, and has now lost 10 games when leading by 15-plus points, the most in the NBA.

“I thought our starters got us off to a good start, and then our bench came in and we had a reckless fouls, we had some tough shots — [poor] floor balance getting back,” said Thibodeau. “We gotta straighten that out.”

The first quarter was for the optimists in the crowd. The Wolves played stingy defense, built an early lead and appeared able to blow the weary Kings, who barely had time to look at film after a loss in New Orleans the previous night.

The final three were for the pessimists. Every player but Adreian Payne had a minus rating on the bench. Towns, who finished with his 56th double-double of the season (26 points, 11 rebounds), was a minus-17. Wiggins had 32. The team still lost.

Ironically, when Thibodeau benched Towns in favor of Payne in the middle of the fourth quarter, it sparked the team briefly. But it ultimately wasn’t enough, and once again a team with fantastically talented players was able to produce offensively, but struggled on the defensive end.

“Ah… yeah,” said Thibodeau when asked about Sacramento’s 20 points in the point in the third quarter. He offered a brief explanation about Sacramento playing small and collapsing. “I thought that then we started getting stretched out a little bit,” he said before stopping abruptly.

“We’ll take a look at the film,” he concluded before leaving the press conference stage.

It’s back to the drawing board for a team that has multiple offensive weapons at its disposal but also has a lot of work to do on the defensive end before it can start winning games consistently. There are only seven games left in the season.

Here is Fox Sports North’s press conference feed:

Asked about the defensive issues, Wiggins said: “We weren’t into our man. We weren’t pressuring the ball like we were in the first quarter, turning them over.”

Towns was a little bit more pointed. “We can’t come out and be like that,” he said. “It felt like we were outworked in the second half. We put them in a big deficit. We should have put the game away then, but we didn’t.”

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