What we learned as Kings lose, fail to clinch playoff spot

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SACRAMENTO -- The Kings entered Monday’s game with a chance to make franchise history, but the Minnesota Timberwolves came howling in on their parade. 

The Timberwolves, winner of their last three games entering Monday’s game, didn’t make it easy as they used their size to their advantage and handed the Kings a tough 119-114 loss at Golden 1 Center. 

Each of the four games between the Kings and Timberwolves this season have been close, and Monday was no different.

Keegan Murray, who entered the game needing four 3-pointers to set the single-season rookie record, finished with three points on 1 of 6 from deep and 1 of 8 overall.

Here are the takeaways from the loss that drops the Kings to 45-30. 

No help, no win, no clinch

The celebration will be put on hold for now. The Kings’ playoff berth is coming, but Sacramento fans will have to do what they’ve done for 16 long seasons -- wait. 

The Kings entered Monday night with three different ways to clinch a playoff spot for the first time since 2006: A Phoenix Suns loss to the Utah Jazz, a win against the Timberwolves (39-37), or a Los Angeles Clippers loss to the Chicago Bulls. Just one of those needed to happen. 

All three results ended up going against the Kings.

A sold-out Golden 1 Center crowd and the entire city of Sacramento were ready to celebrate with the team they’ve supported during nearly two decades of misery. The party will have to wait a little bit longer.

Back like he never left 

De’Aaron Fox returned to action Monday after exiting Friday’s game against the Suns early and missing the entirety of Saturday’s Jazz game with right hamstring soreness. 

At Kings shootaround Monday morning, Fox was asked if he’d be on a minutes restriction to ease his way back into the game. 

“Nah, I wouldn’t play if there was a minutes restriction,” Fox responded. 

The 25-year-old All-Star point guard was special, finishing with 29 points on 10-of-20 shooting from the field.

Unfortunately for the Kings, Fox’s efforts weren’t enough on Monday, but his health doesn’t seem to be a problem as of now as Sacramento takes on the final stretch of the regular season. 

Timberwolves too big 

The Kings entered Monday’s game fully aware that size was not on their side. 

Early in the game, that was made perfectly clear. 

Sacramento was outrebounded 13-5 in the first quarter. Rudy Gobert, who stands at 7-foot-1, grabbed six of them.

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Mike Brown responded, inserting the Kings’ own 7-footer, Alex Len, who did exactly what he was supposed to do in his limited playing time, as he finished with four points, two rebounds and two blocks in seven minutes off the bench. 

And while Sacramento got more aggressive at the glass during the course of the game, and wound up outrebounding Minnesota in the end, they dug themselves too deep of a hole to climb out of.

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