While the New York Knicks and Minnesota Timberwolves are hovering around the .500 mark, they are coming off distinctively different performances in their previous games.
The Knicks look to avoid falling under .500 again on Tuesday night when they host the Timberwolves, who look to reach the break-even point for the second time in 10 days.
New York is at .500 (22-22) for the second time in three games. The Knicks, who were four games under .500 on Dec. 23, are 8-4 in their last 12 games following Monday's disappointing defeat against Charlotte.
After briefly climbing back over .500 with Saturday's 117-108 win at Atlanta, New York trailed by as many as 23 and absorbed a 97-87 loss to the Hornets that snapped a five-game home winning streak.
The Knicks were doomed by a poor start as they allowed the game's first seven points and trailed by 18 at halftime before allowing 35 points in the second half. They also had no answers for Charlotte's Miles Bridges, who scored 38 points, and shot a dreadful 11 of 21 from the free-throw line.
"I guess we were still trying to wake up for the game," New York center Mitchell Robinson said. "We just weren't ready."
RJ Barrett and Julius Randle led the Knicks with 18 points apiece but the Knicks are hoping for better showings from starting guards Alec Burks and Evan Fournier, who made a combined 3 of 13.
The Timberwolves are 5-2 in their past seven games since dropping to 16-20 with a 108-103 loss at the Los Angeles Lakers on Jan. 2.
Minnesota won four straight before consecutive losses at New Orleans and Memphis last week, but it bounced back with a 119-99 win over the visiting Golden State Warriors on Sunday night.
"We don't just want to be in the play-in game," Minnesota's Malik Beasley said. "We want to be set in the playoffs. We're trying to figure out how to get a nice little win streak to get us above the hump."
The Wolves allowed fewer than 100 points for the 13th time and also held the Warriors to 39 percent shooting, marking the second time in the past six contests they held an opponent under 40 percent.
Karl-Anthony Towns totaled 26 points and 11 rebounds for his second double-double since missing six games in the health and safety protocol. The Wolves also won a game where D'Angelo Russell was held to seven points after scoring at least 22 points in three of his previous four games. Anthony Edwards was held to nine after scoring 30 points Thursday at Memphis.
Minnesota is hoping to get another big night from its reserves after Jaylen Nowell finished with 17 points and Beasley contributed 16 to help the second unit score 57 points.
Minnesota is 5-2 in the past seven meetings. New York eked out a 96-88 victory Dec. 28 in Minnesota when Towns was in the protocol along with Russell and Edwards
--Field Level Media