LOS ANGELES – When the Timberwolves were last seen possessing an 11-game losing streak, a trip to Sacramento was the antidote for their ills.
On Monday, the Wolves have a trip to Sacramento lined up, and in the best evidence yet that time is a flat circle — they will try to end an 11-game losing streak.
They extended their skid Saturday as the Clippers took care of business against the Wolves 118-106 at Staples Center.
As a singular event, losing on the road to a team with realistic championship aspirations is not all that disheartening. But when that loss matches the longest losing streak of the season, it just deepens the sinking feeling around this season, even with all the rosy talk emanating from the team about new systems and trying to build a winning culture. It can be hard to see where a winning culture comes from so much losing.
“We’re trying to stay positive,” Robert Covington said. “It’s definitely frustrating but we can’t let that little bit creep in. We still have to go out and play. It’s tough.”
The Wolves hung around most of the afternoon against the Clippers. They trailed by just seven at halftime and were within 77-73 with 5:53 remaining in the third quarter behind another big offensive game from center Karl-Anthony Towns (32 points, 12 rebounds).
But the Clippers clamped down defensively in the fourth quarter, and held the Wolves to 20 points on 5-for-19 shooting, 41% for the game.
The Clippers also had just 20 points in the fourth quarter, but scored 19 points off 17 Wolves turnovers in the game.
Kawhi Leonard had 31 points for the Clippers, while Paul George added 21. Andrew Wiggins picked up a third foul in the second quarter and sat the remainder of the half. Coach Ryan Saunders said he planned on subbing Wiggins back in later in the quarter, but Josh Okogie was playing well at the time, Saunders said.
Wiggins finished with 13 points on 4-for-11 shooting in just 26 minutes, following one of his best statistical nights of the season in Monday’s loss to the Kings at Target Center.
“Losing is losing,” Wiggins said. “It’s hard to stay positive if you’re losing. No one wants to lose. We’re fighting but we just need to play with more determination, with that fire.”
But why haven’t the Wolves played with that kind of fire amid such a trying skid? How can they generate that?
“Just coming out aggressive,” Wiggins said. “Everyone coming out as aggressive and leaving it all out on the floor.”
The locker room wasn’t as upset as it has been at times during this streak.
There was a hint of resignation that the Wolves simply got beat by a very good team. Still, it doesn’t sit well.
“You got to try your best,” Towns said. “This is what we do. This is our jobs. We got to go out there and find ways to win because our livelihoods are on the line every single day. We have to go out there, do this for each other obviously because without each other we can’t accomplish anything individually.
“We have to go out there and find ways to win just like we did earlier in the season.”
Earlier in the season, there was a 10-8 start and playoff odds that exceeded 50%.
How long ago, it seems, when more than a quarter of the Wolves’ season has been spent amid dueling 11-game losing streaks. Except this duel isn’t much of fun one.
“Guys are hurt in there and we want to feel good coming out of one of these games,” Saunders said. “We’re going to keep getting after it. Attack each day and have faith and confidence.”