Photo credit: Rocky Widner NBAE/Getty Images
By Charlie O. Mallonee
The Minnesota Timberwolves defeated the Sacramento Kings 108-97 on Saturday night. The Kings lost because they played inconsistent defense and did not take care of the basketball.
DeMarcus Cousins returned to the Kings’ lineup after serving his one game suspension on Friday night. Cousins posted his 35th double-double of the season scoring 21 points and grabbing 17 rebounds. Cousins’ outstanding performance was not enough to make up for the lack of defense.
Rudy Gay had two entirely different basketball games. In the first half, Gay scored 22 points to help give his team a 56-53 halftime lead. In the second half, he scored only two points. That lack of scoring by Gay did not help the Kings who struggled especially in the third quarter.
Isaiah Thomas put up 22 points and dished out eight assists. Down the stretch, Thomas played in the backcourt with Ray McCallum (nine points) running the point. The two guards worked well together.
“The big three” (Cousins, Gay and Thomas) were the only Kings to score in double figures.
Kevin Martin was the scoring leader for the Timberwolves with 26 points. Martin’s night was similar to Gay’s as he scored 19 in the first half and just seven points in the second half.
Kevin Love posted 22 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists. Love 12 for 14 from the free throw line.
Nikola Pekovic scored 20 points and pulled down nine rebounds. Corey Brewer scored 13 points.
Turnovers killed the Kings on Saturday night. Sacramento turned the ball over 19 times and that resulted in Minnesota scoring 27 points off those turnovers.
The other area that helped the Kings to lose was the lack of scoring in the third quarter. Sacramento was outscored 31-14 in the third period. A team cannot win in the NBA scoring 14 points in a quarter.
Despite the horrible third quarter, the Kings cut the Timberwolves lead to just two points with less than three minutes to play. Turnovers and poor fastbreak decisions allowed the Timberwolves to open up the eventual nine point lead.
After the game when asked why his team lost, Kings Head Coach Michael Malone said, “Turnovers – (we) continue to beat ourselves.” Malone cited inconsistent defense as another major contributor to his team’s loss.
With the win, Minnesota’s record improved to 29-29. The loss dropped the Kings record to 20-39 for the 2013-14 season. Sacramento has now lost three games in a row.
The Kings will have Sunday off and will host the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday night.