by Charlie O. Mallonee
The Sacramento Kings opened a four game road trip with a 113-101 victory over the Timberwolves in the Twin Cities on Saturday night. It was a game that featured two distinctively different Kings teams on the court.
The pregame hype had this slated as a relatively easy road game for the Kings. The T-Wolves have been decimated by injuries early in the season. The only problem for Sacramento was there are no easy games on the road in “the Association”. The Timberwolves proved that by their play in the game.
The Kings came out in the first half playing as if it was going to be an easy game that would not require them to play with intensity. The Wolves played with determination on offense and used a tough zone defense down low to tie up Cousins and to dare the Kings to take outside shots. The Kings hit on just two of 12 3-Point opportunities in the first half. Sacramento turned the ball over 10 times. The lack of defense allowed Minnesota to take a 52-48 lead into the locker room at halftime.
After the game, Ben McLemore said, “We came out not ready to play basketball”. Kings Head Coach Michael Malone indicated he was worried about his team’s attitude before the game started.
“I challenged our guards at halftime,” said Malone. The guards responded. The entire Kings team responded.
Sacramento came out in third quarter ready to play. The Kings outscored the T-Wolves 36-25 in the quarter. The guards stepped up and started hitting outside shots. The defense kept the T-Wolves off balance. Sacramento led 84-77 at the end of three quarters.
The Timberwolves cut the Kings lead to just four points early in the fourth quarter led by some inspired play from rookie forward Andrew Wiggins. Sacramento continued to play tough defense and scored 29 points in the quarter to walkaway with their eighth victory of the season.
DeMarcus Cousins posted another double-double putting up 31 points and pulling down 18 rebounds while being double and triple teamed all game. Ben McLemore put up 22 points and grabbed 9 rebounds in 40 minutes of playing time . McLemore hit on four of nine 3-Point attempts.
Darren Collison scored 19 points to with seven assists and two rebounds. Derrick Williams put up 12 points including a key 3-Point bucket late in the fourth quarter to help preserve the win. Rudy Gay had 14 points, six rebounds and six assists for the Kings.
Sacramento shot 49.4-percent (40 for 81) from the floor. They shot eight for 26 (30.8-percent) from 3-Point land. The Kings hit 25 of 30 (83.3-percent) from the free throw line. They outrebounded the Wolves 50-37. Turnovers were too high with 18 charged to the Kings.
Minnesota was led by rookie Andrew Wiggins who put up a career high 29 points to go with five rebounds, four steals, two assists and one blocked shot. The T-Wolves’ starting five all scored in double figures. The Timberwolves shot just 41.1-percent (37 for 90) from the field.
The Kings will return to action Tuesday night versus the Pelicans in New Orleans.