Kings-Timberwolves Preview

The Associated Press

The Minnesota Timberwolves' offense fell apart late in their last game.

It was a 48-minute struggle for the Sacramento Kings in their most recent effort.

The Timberwolves will try to snap a three-game home losing streak on Monday night when the Kings look to rebound from one of the franchise's worst offensive performances.

Leading by 18 late in the third quarter Saturday, Minnesota (4-8) was outscored 24-2 during a nine-plus minute stretch and lost 93-91 at Atlanta.

"When you are 18 up, you have to control the game," said rookie point guard Ricky Rubio, who finished with a season-high 18 points and 12 assists. "We have to learn about that. We didn't know how to offense that zone.''

The Kings (4-9) didn't have many answers for Dallas' defense Saturday and lost for the fourth time in five games, 99-60. It was the fewest points scored by the team since a 101-59 loss at Charlotte on Jan. 10, 1991.

Sacramento's 23 first-half points were a franchise low. The previous mark was 25 against Boston on Feb. 26, 1957, when the Kings were based in Rochester, N.Y., and called the Royals.

"When you come into the league, what you want to do is make shots,'' said Kings coach Keith Smart, who is 2-4 since replacing the fired Paul Westphal. "When you're not making those, you get down. When you get a collection of players doing that, the team gets down."

The Kings are hoping for better results as they complete their five-game trip.

Sacramento shot 56.0 percent and won 127-95 in its last visit to the Target Center on March 20. It was the second-most lopsided home loss in Timberwolves history.

Minnesota forward Kevin Love, who finished with just three rebounds and no points in that game after suffering an injured left groin, will try to score 30 or more points in three consecutive games for the first time in his career.

Love, the NBA leader with 12 double-doubles, averaged just 6.3 points and 7.3 rebounds as the Timberwolves dropped two of three to the Kings in 2010-11.

Michael Beasley scored a team-best 24.0 points per game in those contests - including a career-high 42 on Nov. 10, 2010, when Minnesota snapped a four-game skid in Sacramento - but he is questionable after missing the last five games with a right foot sprain.

J.J. Barea could miss his third consecutive game with an ankle injury. That could mean more playing time for Rubio, who has 30 points and 21 assists in two games after entering the starting lineup Friday.

Wolves guard Luke Ridnour had a team-high 42 points in two home losses to Sacramento in 2010-11. He scored 22 on March 20, when he got into a confrontation with Kings forward DeMarcus Cousins after the two became tangled on a screen.

Cousins, who was ejected following that play for shoving Ridnour and Martell Webster, has five double-doubles in six games since Smart took over.

Kings guard Tyreke Evans averaged 25.0 points in Smart's first five games before scoring a season-low three on Saturday.

Evans finished with five points and nine assists in the home loss to the Timberwolves last season after missing a 117-116 victory in Minneapolis on Oct. 27, 2010, due to suspension. Evans was sidelined with plantar fasciitis in his left foot on March 20.

The Timberwolves and Kings have alternated wins in their last seven matchups.

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