|5:00 PM PT6:00 PM MT7:00 PM CT8:00 PM ET1:00 GMT9:00 6:00 PM MST8:00 PM EST5:00 UAE (+1)02:0020:00 ET7:00 PM CTNaN:� , January 12, 2018
Target Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota Attendance: 18,978
Timberwolves look to stay defensive vs. Knicks
New York Knicks at Minnesota Timberwolves
- This will be the first meeting between the Knicks and the Timberwolves this season. New York has won the last four games in this series.
- The Knicks are 10-6 versus Western Conference opponents this season, holding them to a league-low 41.9 percent from the field in these contests.
- The Timberwolves defeated Oklahoma City 104-88 on Wednesday. It was the seventh consecutive game that they have held their opponent below 100 points, which is their longest such streak in a single season since they held seven straight opponents below 100 points, January 25-February 8, 2008.
- Courtney Lee has made his last 43 free-throw attempts, which is the longest active streak in the NBA. Lee did not attempt a free throw in the Knicks' double-overtime loss to the Bulls on Wednesday, despite playing 44:58 in the contest.
- Jimmy Butler has been very effective at getting to the free-throw line this month, averaging 10.2 attempts per contest. He went to the FT line an average of 4.6 times per contest though games of December 31. Butler was 11-for-12 from the FT line in Wednesday's win over the Thunder.
- Karl-Anthony Towns has recorded a double-double in seven consecutive games. That is his longest such streak since he had a double-double in eight straight games, April 6-October 22, 2017.
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MINNEAPOLIS -- After winning their third straight game, the Minnesota Timberwolves are 11 games above .500 for the first time in a long time.
Minnesota (27-16) enters Friday's game with the fourth-best record in the Western Conference, and Timberwolves fans are taking note. Wednesday's win over Oklahoma City was a sellout, Minnesota's fifth in a row at Target Center.
Now the Wolves are hoping for another packed building Friday -- but, more importantly, another win.
If Minnesota's defense keeps playing the way it has as of late, another win could be in the cards as the Wolves host the New York Knicks.
It's now been seven straight games that Tom Thibodeau's team has held opponents under 100 points and it has helped the Wolves get 11 games over .500 for the first time since the end of the 2003-04 season.
The Knicks are averaging 103.6 points per game, which ranks in the bottom half of the NBA.
"Now we're taking pride in our defense," Minnesota's Jimmy Butler told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. "We're taking it personal with matchups. I like to see that."
While the Wolves have reeled off three straight wins, the Knicks have lost four of their last five games prior to Friday's contest. New York's most recent loss was a tough 122-119 double-overtime defeat against Chicago in which Bulls rookie Lauri Markkanen scored 33 points and hit eight 3-pointers.
"Just another tough loss. It's not a lot to say really," Knicks star Kristaps Porzingis told the New York Daily News. "We just got to keep going and learning."
New York will have a trio of scorers on Minnesota's roster to try and stop on Friday as Butler, Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins all pose a scoring threat.
Just as importantly, though, is the commitment to defense Minnesota's players have given. While the defense might not have been up to Thibodeau's standards early in the year, it has tightened up. That's resulted in more wins -- and a bit more fun up and down the Timberwolves' roster.
"The young guys are smiling every day," Wolves forward Taj Gibson told the Star Tribune. "They know they're in a good space and the hard work is coming around, but it all comes from defense and everybody understands that."
In Wednesday's game to the Bulls, New York guard Jarrett Jack tallied a triple-double of 16 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. Jack's second career triple-double, though, to help the Knicks put together two straight wins.
"A triple-double is cool, but we lost," Jack told the Daily News. "That's just the way I look at things. I look at things in terms of wins and losses."
The Knicks (19-22) continue to be led on offense by Porzingis but will need role players like Jack to continue to step up. That includes Friday's tilt with Minnesota, which will see the return of former Timberwolves forward Michael Beasley. The journeyman Beasley is averaging 12.4 points per game as one of five Knicks players averaging in double-figures.
Minnesota, meanwhile, continues to receive balanced scoring. The Timberwolves got point guard Jeff Teague back on Wednesday against the Thunder, giving Thibodeau's roster even more depth as the second half the season continues.
Updated January 11, 2018