Sacramento Kings Monday game wrap: Kings lose their steam 102-88

February 27, 2017

NBA, Sacramento Kings

Minnesota Timberwolves forward Andrew Wiggins, left, stuffs as Sacramento Kings guard Ty Lawson looks on during the first half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Feb. 27, 2017, in Sacramento, Calif. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

By Jeremy Harness

SACRAMENTO – Late in the third quarter, Tyreke Evans threw a bad pass over teammate Buddy Hield’s head, and then lost focus on the play at half and let Nemanja Bjelica sneak behind him for a layup to add on to an already-commanding lead.

Mental lapses and overall lulls like that have plagued the Kings’ season. The only difference now is that they don’t have an All-Star big man to lean on anymore, to help them stay in the game when they otherwise would have no chance.

With DeMarcus Cousins now in New Orleans, the end result was a 102-88 landslide defeat at the hands of the 23-36 Minnesota Timberwolves at the Golden 1 Center on Monday, a game that was never really close once the first quarter ended.

In the battle of former University of Kentucky teammates, Minnesota center Karl-Anthony Towns clearly got the better of his matchup with Willie Cauley-Stein on Monday. Towns scored a game-high 29 points on 13-of-19 shooting to go along with 17 rebounds and a pair of assists.

Cauley-Stein, for his part, didn’t fare too badly himself with 14 points while making five of his 11 shots from the field while adding six rebounds and five assists. However, it was clear that he was overmatched by a young man who is already considered one of the top big men in the game in only his second year in the NBA.

Meanwhile, Andrew Wiggins, who is also in his second season in the league, was right behind Towns with 27 points on 10-of-22 shooting with four rebounds.

After winning the first game following the All-Star break and the Cousins trade, the Kings have now dropped the previous two contests. Sacramento, however, has still won seven of its last 10 games overall.

In the early going, however, it seemed as if the opposite would occur. The Kings got off to a great start, leading by eight points at one point in the opening quarter. But that opening jolt of momentum would soon come to a crashing halt.

The Kings cooled off considerably and allowed the Timberwolves to inch their way back into the game and eventually take complete control of it. They ended the first quarter with a 25-20 lead, but when Minnesota blitzed the Kings for a 40-point second quarter, Sacramento had no answer and played the rest of the game looking up.

After trailing at the half, 60-44, the Kings momentarily got the compass going in their direction to start the third quarter once they got out in transition, with Ty Lawson and Darren Collison at the controls simultaneously, and cutting the lead to single digits.

However, just like the one in the first quarter, that surge fizzled out, and Minnesota quickly regained control, and the Kings could get no closer.

For the Kings, Kosta Koufos had 14 points in the first half while making all but one of his seven field goals while pulling down six rebounds.

He did not score in the second half, but he did finish the game with 11 rebounds, giving him his second double-double of the season.

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