Kings interested in Love?

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By Charlie O. Mallonee

Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports is reporting the Sacramento Kings are interested in trading the number eight draft pick and an unnamed player package to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Kevin Love. Of course, the Kings are not the only NBA team interested in Love.According to Yahoo:

The Sacramento Kings have let the Minnesota Timberwolves know they are interested in trading for All-Star forward Kevin Love – and the Kings would make a deal without any assurance from Love he’d re-sign with them, a league source told Yahoo Sports.

The Kings are willing to give up their eighth overall pick in this year’s NBA draft and a combination of players for Love, even though he would not be expected to sign a contract extension before next season – if ever, with the rebuilding, small-market franchise, the source said. Sacramento envisions Love and DeMarcus Cousins playing alongside each other in the front court. Swingman Rudy Gay has a player’s option for next season.

The Kings know they’d have to gamble on convincing Love to re-sign, given that the franchise is rebuilding and Love is looking to play for a contender after never reaching the playoffs with the Timberwolves. Love’s suitors also figure to include a number of bigger markets, including the Boston CelticsLos Angeles LakersNew York KnicksGolden State WarriorsHouston Rockets and Chicago Bulls.

Love’s representatives with Excel Sports have pushed Timberwolves president Flip Saunders to find an acceptable trade prior to the start of free agency in July. Without a trade, Love plans to opt out of his contract in the summer of 2015 and likely leave Minnesota as a free agent.

The Kings showed in their first season under new owner Vivek Ranadive and general manager Pete D’Alessandro they are willing to spend money. They acquired Gay and signed Cousins to a four-year, $62 million extension.

Sacramento struggled to a 28-54 record last season and missed the playoffs for the eighth straight season. The Kings expect to begin playing in a new downtown Sacramento arena in 2016.

The Kings have not issued any reaction to the Yahoo Sports report.

 Love has never played in a post-season game in the NBA. He most likely wants to be traded to a contender. A team that is just one player away from competing for the NBA Championship. That does not describe the Sacramento Kings who must first make the playoffs before thinking about playing for a title.

 The Kings have become an aggressive team when it comes to acquiring personnel. Going after a Kevin Love is admirable but not realistic at this time. The packaging of the eighth pick for a veteran impact player is a logical move if the right player is available. If a fair trade cannot be arranged then it’s time to choose the best available player on draft night.

 The next 30-days will be active ones for the Kings player personnel department.

Kings beat the T-Wolves 106-103

Photo credit: Rocky Widner
Photo credit: Rocky Widner

By Charlie O. Mallonee

The Sacramento Kings and the Minnesota Timberwolves met in Sacramento on Sunday night in a game that meant nothing in the standings. Both clubs are out of the playoff picture. The only thing that was on the line was pride. The Kings and T-Wolves brought plenty of pride to the game and put on a hard-fought show for the big crowd which went home happy because the Kings won the game 106-103.

The Kings were led by the outstanding play of DeMarcus Cousins who scored 35 points, grabbed 15 rebounds and handed out six assists. It was Cousins’ 53rd double-double of the season. He shot 13 of 21 from the field and was 9 of 13 from the free throw line.

Cousins’ brilliant play was not the biggest story of the night for the Kings’ center. With one-minute and 13-seconds left in the game, Cousins picked up his 16th technical foul of the season which means he will be suspended for the Kings’ final game of the season versus Phoenix. Cousins had played with the 15 technical fouls hanging over his head since February 25th.

The Kings can and will appeal to the league office who can overturn the call. Head Coach Michael Malone said, “I feel for him. (We will) try to get it rescinded.

Rookie Ben McLemore played with abandon on offense and defense. McLemore scored 19 points and shot 3 for 6 from beyond the 3-point arc. On defense, McLemore held Kevin Martin and Robbie Hummel to just five points combined.

To the delight of the fans, Isaiah Thomas returned to the floor after missing 10 consecutive games with a right quad contusion. Thomas was very productive in his 30-minutes of playing time. He scored 14 points and dished out four assist.

The Timberwolves were led by Kevin Love’s 43 points and 11 rebounds. Love was 15 of 17 from the free throw line. Love had a relatively quiet first-half scoring just 13 points. He really came alive in the second-half and was the leader on the floor for Minnesota.

Rookie Center Gorgui Dieng had a spectacular game through three quarters. He picked up his fourth foul and was quiet after that. Dieng scored 21 points, pulled down 14 rebounds and had four assists.

After the game Kings Head Coach Michael Malone said, “(It was a) hell of an effort for our guys. (We) played better in the second half. Happy to get this win after losing five in a row.”

The Kings will play their final game of the season on Wednesday night in Sacramento against the Phoenix Suns who battling for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Kings lose a heartbreaker to T-wolves 104-102

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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.

Timberwolves down the Kings 108-97

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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.

Last second shot downs Warriors, lose 121-120 to Wolves

By Gabe Schapiro

The Golden State Warriors (26-18) lost a hectic back-and-forth contest to the Minnesota Timberwolves, 121-120, Friday night, at Oracle Arena. The game featured a ton of offense, and seemed to come down to which side would blink first. The Warriors grabbed a late lead, before a Kevin Martin 20-foot jumper with eight seconds left ultimately put the Timberwolves ahead for good. Three Minnesota players finished with 20+ points in the win.

The fast pace was set early on, as both squads combined for 72 points in the first quarter alone, deadlocked at a 36-36 tie. The foes continued to go blow-for-blow, with neither establishing a significant lead. The Timberwolves opened up the game with a 6-0 run, but that would be the biggest advantage either would enjoy until the third quarter.

Heading into the locker rooms at half time, they remained tied, 63 all.

Late in the third quarter, Golden State finally made a bit of a run. Minnesota failed to score for the final 2:53, sending the Warriors on a 10-0 tear, and a seven-point lead, heading into the fourth. It appeared as though the dubs could fight them off, but the rollercoaster ride wasn’t over.

In the fourth the momentum slowly swayed back in the Wolves favor. With 5:54 remaining in the contest, a Martin three-pointer had erased Golden State’s lead, and had taken back a one-point lead of their own. They continued to trade punches down the stretch. With 27 seconds left a pair of Andre Iguodala free-throws gave the Warriors their last lead of the game, 120-119. With eight ticks left, Martin played the game-changer again, sinking a jumper. Harrison Barnes had one last shot at the buzzer, after a double-teamed Stephen Curry passed the rock his way, but his attempt clanged off the rim.

In all five Warriors finished in double figures. Curry led all scorers with 33 points, including six three-pointers, to go along with 15 assists. David Lee pitched in 23 points and seven rebounds. Andrew Bogut set a Warriors season-high with seven blocked shots, to highlight his line of eight points and 11 boards. Klay Thompson had 18, Iguodala finished with 16.

Kevin Love led the way for Minnesota, filling up the stat sheet with 26 points, 14 rebounds, and eight assists. Martin did plenty of damage as well, chipping in another 26 points. Center Nikola Pekovic scored 22, and hauled in 14 rebounds. Ricky Rubio led the team with 12 assists.

Golden State will look to get back to their winning ways this Sunday, when they take on the tough Portland Trailblazers, back at Oracle. The game begins at 6:00pm.

Kings Trade for Power Forward Derrick Williams

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By Charlie O. Mallonee

If you thought the Sacramento Kings new ownership and management were just going to struggle through the season until the draft, you were wrong. The Kings have sent Luc Mbah a Moute to the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for Power Forward Derrick Williams.

“We’re excited to acquire a player with Derrick’s skillset,” said D’Alessandro. “He will add size, length and serve as a scoring threat in our frontcourt. We also want to thank Luc for his contributions during the short time he was a King. We wish him the best.”

Williams was the second overall draft pick in the 2011 NBA draft. Much had been expected of Williams, but he was never able to settle in at one spot long enough to thrive. The Timberwolves tried him at Small Forward, but that did not pan out. He was moved back to Power Forward, but that put Williams up against Kevin Love for playing time.

Williams did show he can be a force at the four spot when Love was out due to injury. His point production and rebound totals went up exponentially with his increased playing time. Williams wanted out of Minnesota in order to go to a team that would up his time on the floor.

Williams is 6-8, 240 pound forward. He is averaging 4.9 points (35.2 FG%, 13.3 3PT%, 87.5 FT%), 2.4 rebounds and 14.7 minutes of playing time per game. His playing time should increase rapidly as the Kings look for answers at the Power Forward position.

Mbah a Moute was a real key in executing this trade. The Timberwolves are looking for a greater defensive presence on the floor. Mbah a Moute is capable of defending the small forward and the guards. He was making an impact on defense for the Kings, but Sacramento needs additional scoring up front to take some of the pressure off of DeMarcus Cousins.

Kings fans should get their first look at Williams on Friday night when the LA Clippers come to Sleep Train Arena.