The Timberwolves (41-30) open a stretch of four games in five against teams with no chance of reaching the playoffs. Minnesota entered play Thursday night one-half game ahead of the Utah Jazz for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference as they chase their first postseason appearance in 14 years.
It also has been 13 years since Minnesota last had a winning record, but finishing above .500 in the rugged West is no guarantee of a playoff appearance, something the Timberwolves know all too well after finishing 44-38 in 2004/05 and failing to advance.
They picked up a crucial win Tuesday night, 123-109 over the Los Angeles Clippers. Karl-Anthony Towns scored 30 points, but it was Andrew Wiggins, who hit four 3-pointers and scored 13 of his 27 points in the third quarter, that helped break open the game as the Timberwolves avoided a third straight loss.
The Knicks (26-46) were denied their first three-game winning streak in over three months after being routed 119-98 at Miami on Wednesday night. Enes Kanter totaled 23 points and 13 rebounds while Michael Beasley added 22 points for New York, whose defense had repeated breakdowns and allowed the Heat to shoot 55.6 percent after holding their previous two opponents under 40 percent.
While the Knicks are trying to win a third straight home game, they have lost 18 of their last 21 overall and are trying to avoid their first season sweep to Minnesota since the 2014/15 season.