Timberwolves bench to see action vs. reeling Bulls

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The Minnesota Timberwolves survived one game without Karl-Anthony Towns, Rudy Gobert and D’Angelo Russell.

Missing three starters again is a scenario they would like to avoid but now the Timberwolves can say they have positive experience using virtually all of their depth.

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The Timberwolves could very well be short-handed again Sunday night when they return home from a five-game road trip and host the slumping Chicago Bulls.

The Wolves went 2-3 on the trip and are 4-7 since winning five straight Nov. 13-23. Minnesota knows it will be without Towns, who will miss his ninth straight game with a strained right calf sustained Nov. 28 in Washington, but it may be without Russell and Gobert again.

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Russell has missed the past two games with a knee injury and Gobert could be out for a second straight contest with a left ankle sprain.

If Russell and Gobert are out again, the Wolves are hoping for a reprise of what unfolded in their 112-110 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday.

Naz Reid started in place of Gobert and scored 28 points Friday in his first start of the season while also making 11 of 18 shots and grabbing nine rebounds.

Austin Rivers made his second straight start in place of Russell and added a season-high 20 points after missing six of seven shots in a 99-88 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.

“This team is deep, like literally, this team is deep,” Reid said after five players reached double figures. “One through 15 could really work out and do what they do. Anybody at any moment in any game or any day can lead us to a big game W. This team is deep.”

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Whoever suits up for the Timberwolves, the Bulls are hoping to reverse some poor trends. Chicago has dropped three straight and seven of 10 after enduring a 114-91 home loss to the New York Knicks on Friday, when they were outscored 56-38 in the second half.

The Bulls are also 5-11 in their past 16 games since reaching .500 last month.

Chicago comes off its worst offensive showing of the season even though it shot a respectable 46.8 percent after shooting 54 percent in Wednesday’s 128-120 overtime loss to the Knicks.

Defense was a major problem. The Bulls allowed 17 3s after conceding 18 on Wednesday. The team was also outscored 14-0 in second-chance points and scored just 16 points in the fourth quarter.

“It was terrible,” Bulls guard Zach LaVine said. “We’ve got to be better, and we know that. There’s nothing you can do except try to be better the next day.”

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LaVine led the Bulls with 17 but DeMar DeRozan was held to a season-low 14 after scoring 66 in his previous two outings. The Bulls are hoping to see more from Nikola Vucevic after the center matched a season low with nine points.

“It’s not ideal where we’re at,” DeRozan said. “But hey, great stories start with some sort of tragedy.”

The Bulls are hoping Sunday is similar to both wins against Minnesota last season. In their 124-120 win in Chicago on April 10, the Bulls shot 53 percent and in a 134-122 win at Minnesota on Feb. 11, they shot 63.2 percent.

–Field Level Media

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