Photo credit: NBAE/Getty Images
By Charlie O. Mallonee
Kevin Martin scored 31 points and Kevin Love hit for 26 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and distributed five assists as the Minnesota Timberwolves defeated the Sacramento Kings 104-102 on Sunday night in Minneapolis.
Isaiah Thomas led the Kings with 27 points and Derrick Williams put up 26 points off the bench to take the game down to the wire with Timberwolves. Rudy Gay added 14 points, but it would not be enough to get a win in the seventh and final game of the 13-day road trip.
The Kings started the game with a major disadvantage having to play without DeMarcus Cousins in the lineup. Cousins was suffering from knee tenderness. Cousins is almost a guaranteed double-double in every game he starts which means a significant of number of points and rebounds must be covered by the other starters and the bench.
Nikola Pekovic was unable to go for the Timberwolves due to an ankle problem.
The Timberwolves jumped out to an early 13-6 lead as the Kings looked out of sync on both offense and defense which forced an early timeout call. The Kings looked better for short period after the timeout but then began to give up fastbreaks and easy points to Minnesota.
Derrick Williams – the former Timberwolf – came in with the second unit for the Kings and immediately provided a spark by scoring 10 points on just three shots. The Kings were able to close the gap and trailed the Timberwolves by just three points – 32-29 – after one quarter of play.
The Kings did not start the second quarter well as it took them 2:29 to put up their first points which was another bucket by Derrick Williams. The Kings closed the Minnesota lead to just two and took the lead 39-38 on a Derrick Williams three-point play. After a timeout, Rick Adelman put his first unit back on the floor to face the Kings. Michael Malone chose to keep his second unit out versus the Timberwolves’ first unit.
The Kings and Wolves then began trading baskets and fouls staying within three points of the other team. The game also switched to a half-court offensive contest. The Kings’ defense prevented the Timberwolves from setting up for the fastbreak. The Kings using some inspired play from Rudy Gay and Williams were able to go to the locker room with a 54-53 lead.
Derrick Williams scored 16 points in just 11 minutes of play for the Kings in the first-half. Reggie Evans scored eight points and Rudy Gay added seven points. Isaiah Thomas put up five points and dished out six assists. The Kings had 12 assists versus seven turnovers. The Sacramento bench outscored the Minnesota bench 30-4.
The third quarter began with Kevin Martin and Kevin Love shooting the ball well and allowing the Timberwolves to retake the lead. Gorgui Dieng was very active on defense plugging up the middle and swatting away shots. The Kings then turned it on with Isaiah Thomas tying the game at 69 all.
Isaiah Thomas really turned up the effort scoring 13 points in the third, but the Love, Martin and Dieng combination was very strong allowing the Timberwolves to take the lead 77-74 after three quarters.
The Kings came out in the final period with Williams and McCallum hitting buckets and giving the Kings the lead 78-77. When the Timberwolves had not scored after two minutes, Rick Adelman took a timeout.
The teams proceeded to trade buckets and the game remained tied or within two points of the other team for the next few minutes. Derrick Williams showed the Minnesota fans what they gave up when he was traded to Sacramento by scoring nine quick points.
Kevin Love scored four quick points to give the Wolves the lead, but Thomas and Williams kept the Kings in the game and within one point with 1:26 left to play. The Kings took the lead on two free throw shots by Williams. Love gave Minnesota the lead back with a 3-point shot. Ricky Rubio opened up a three point – 98-95 – lead for the Wolves hitting one of two free throws with 41 seconds left to play. The Kings missed on three opportunities and Minnesota went to the free throw line with 16 seconds left to go. Kevin Martin hit the two free throws and it was 100-95 with 16 seconds to play. Isaiah Thomas hit a 3-point shot to bring the Kings within two points of the lead. Kevin Martin was fouled and hit two free throws. Thomas hit another 3-pointer to make it 102-101 Timberwolves. Martin hit two more free throws and Thomas hit from the charity stripe to make it 104-102 Minnesota. Dieng was fouled and missed both shots with 1 second to go. Rudy Gay took a full court shot that missed and the Timberwolves won the game 104-102.
The long and arduous road trip is finally over. The Kings headed back to Sacramento and will host the Washington Wizards on Tuesday night.