NBA

Timberwolves-Kings Preview

Though there's usually little intrigue in late-season matchups between losing NBA teams, there could be a compelling reason to tune in when the Sacramento Kings host the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday night.

It's possible Sim Bhullar could make his debut for the Kings and become the first player of Indian descent to play in the NBA.

Sacramento (26-50) has dropped five straight and Minnesota (16-60) has lost six in a row as these rebuilding clubs wind down disappointing seasons.

The Kings won't have center DeMarcus Cousins, who will sit out with a sore right foot. However, forward Rudy Gay is probable to play after missing the last three games while recovering from a concussion.

Reserve shooting guard Nik Stauskas also is expected to play despite a mid-back strain.

Cousins' absence could make life easier for leading rookie of the year candidate Andrew Wiggins, who's averaged 23.4 points in his last seven games.

Bhullar, however, could steal the spotlight if he enters the contest. He was born in Toronto to Indian-born parents and played AAU basketball with fellow Canadian Wiggins.

The 7-foot-5 Bhullar was signed to a 10-day contract by the Kings on April 2 and has sat on the bench for the first two games of this three-game homestand. Bhullar was previously with the Reno Bighorns of the NBA Development League, where he averaged 10.3 points and 8.8 rebounds in 39 games.

Friday's 101-95 home loss to New Orleans was aired live in India - a country known for its maniacal devotion to cricket - and the Kings lost by that same score Sunday to Utah. Coach George Karl hasn't indicated when and if he would use Bhullar.

Sacramento has previously given unheralded players chances under Indian-born owner Vivek Ranadive. The club signed David Stockton - the son of Hall of Famer John Stockton - to a 10-day contract Feb. 20 and used him once.

It's been difficult for Karl to find minutes for Bhullar as a backup to Cousins, who was clamoring for help on the glass after Sunday's loss. Sacramento, third in the league in rebound margin at plus-3.5, has been outrebounded by 3.0 per contest in five of its last six games.

That may no longer be the case with Cousins - who averages 12.7 boards - unavailable.

"It's a gang rebounding thing, especially when we go small," Cousins said. "You can't just depend on the bigs to do it, it's a group thing."

Also helping Bhullar's chances of playing is the league's suspension of forward Carl Landry on Monday for one game for leaving the bench during an altercation Sunday.

The injury-plagued Wolves are missing Nikola Pekovic (ankle), Gorgui Dieng (concussion), Ricky Rubio (ankle) and Kevin Garnett (knee).

They had eight players available in Friday's 97-84 home defeat to Orlando. Wiggins - one of three rookies in the starting lineup - scored 22 points.

''Our biggest thing right now is young players that have never gone through this,'' coach Flip Saunders said. ''They're in uncharted waters. We're trying to get them to push through and understand what this is all about and what they have to do to be prepared."

These are the NBA's worst defensive teams, with Minnesota yielding 105.9 points per game and Sacramento 104.9.

"We're inconsistent," Karl said. "That's probably a personality of a lot of teams that are losing games. You don't put solid minutes on the court."

Sacramento has won both meetings with Minnesota this season.

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