Timberwolves defeat Kings 101-91

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Sacramento Kings
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

By Charlie O. Mallonee

Sacramento – The momentum that the Sacramento Kings brought with them when they returned home from a five-game road was lost on Friday night when they were defeated by the Minnesota Timberwolves 101-91.

If you like uptempo basketball with plenty of 3-point shooting, then this game would have been to your liking. The ball crossed the mid-court line in three to five seconds on each possession and there was a total 47 three-point attempts in the game.

What was missing for the Kings in the game was defense in the first half and offense in the second half.

In the first half, the Kings allowed the T-Wolves to shoot 54.3-percent (19-for-35) from the field. Minnesota shot 53.8-percent (7-for-13) from 3-point range. The Kings generated just enough offense to keep the game close. At the half, the Timberwolves held a 53-47 lead over the Kings.

The Kings defense improved in the second half but their offense went away. Sacramento was unable took take the lead in the second half. The Kings did cut the T-Wolves lead to just two points early in the fourth quarter, but they were unable to capitalize on their effort as Minnesota opened up double-digit leads with less than six minutes left to play.

The Kings desperately needed to put together a run of six to eight points but were unable to do so. As the fourth quarter progressed, Sacramento was relegated to trading baskets with their opponents. In the end, the Kings just ran out of time.

Sacramento (6-11) was without DeMarcus Cousins who dressed for the contest but did not play due to a lower back strain. The Kings are now 1-6 when Cousins is not in the lineup.

The Timberwolves (8-8) have become true road warriors. Minnesota is now 6-2 on the road for the season.

Kings

Rajon Rondo was the workhorse for the Kings again in this game. Rondo recorded a double-double putting up 16 points and distributing 16 assists. He made 7-of-16 field goal attempts and shot 1-for-2 from beyond the 3-point line. Rondo did not commit a turnover in his 36-plus minutes on the floor.

Marco Belinelli was the Kings leading scorer with 17 points off the bench. He shot 7-for-12 from the floor and hit 3-of-5 three-point attempts. Belinelli has scored in double-figures in each of the last five games.

Kosta Koufos had a solid game for the Kings posting a double-double scoring 16 points and pulling down 13 rebounds.

Omri Casspi was strong off the bench for Sacramento once again. Casspi scored 15 points shooting 6-for-10 from the floor including two 3-pointers.

The shock of the night was the play of Rudy Gay. He shot 1-for-13 and scored just two points in 26-plus minutes of playing time. Much of the credit for Gay’s subpar performance can be credited to Andrew Wiggins who played tough defense against the Kings star forward all night long.

As a team the Kings shot 43.0-percent (37-for-86) for the game. They made 8-of-22 three-point attempts. The glaring statistic of the night was the Kings free throw shooting or rather the lack there of. Sacramento averages 23 free throw attempts per game. The had just 15 attempts on Friday night converting just nine of those attempts.

In order to close the scoring gap in the second half, the Kings needed to drive the lane, pick up fouls and score with the clock stopped. They were unable to make that happen.

The Kings were out-rebounded by the T-Wolves. Minnesota pulled down 46 rebounds to just 36 for Sacramento.

The Kings dished out 21 assists while turning the ball over 15 times. The 15 turnovers resulted in 16 points for Minnesota.

Timberwolves

The T-Wolves leading scorer was second-year forward Andrew Wiggins. Wiggins scored 22 points hitting on 8-of-17 shots. He went 5-for-6 from the free throw while grabbing six rebounds. Wiggins also showed off his defensive prowess by helping to hold Rudy Gay to just two points.

Zach LaVine started at point guard for the injured Ricky Rubio. LaVine scored 19 points, hauled in eight rebounds and had four assists for the T-Wolves.

The NBA’s number one overall draft pick Karl-Anthony Towns had a relatively quiet night. He scored just seven points but he did record eight rebounds.

Shabazz Muhammad put up 15 points off the bench and the ageless Andre Miller scored 12 points playing as the backup point guard.

The Timberwolves shot 48.1-percent (33-for-77) from the floor and made 9-of-25 (36.0-percent) 3-point shots. The T-Wolves converted 18-of-19 (94.7-percent) free throw attempts.

Minnesota posted 20 assists and 18 turnovers. Their turnovers resulted in 19 points for the Kings.

What they said after the game

“Tonight was a struggle. A struggle offensively in the second half, defensively in the first half,” said Kings head coach George Karl. “First half, I had all sorts of trouble with our defense. We just don’t have a luxury with Cuz (DeMarcus Cousins) not playing to not give an effort defensively. I thought the second half effort was there defensively, but offensively we were just frustrated and confused.”

“We need to give them (Minnesota) credit. They played hard tonight. They are a talented team, but that was a very winnable game for us. At the same time, we have to turn the page and move on and learn from our mistakes,” said Kings center Kosta Koufos.

When asked about how it felt to reach .500 (8-8) Timberwolves forward Andrew Wiggins said, “It feels good. Especially, when we were three games out of it then we won the last three games, so we’re picking it up. We’re getting better every game so it feels good.”

Up next

The Kings will have no time to sit and ponder their next moves to improve their play. Sacramento travels to Oakland to take on the 17-0 Golden State Warriors Saturday night. Playing DeMarcus Cousins against the Warriors will probably be game-time decision.

The Timberwolves travel to Los Angeles to face the Clippers on Sunday in the finale of their two-game road trip.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s