CK Press Box Report: Minnesota Timberwolves 108, Sacramento Kings 97

by Jonathan Santiago & James Ham

Recap

Box Score

 
One bad quarter from the Sacramento Kings was all the Minnesota Timberwolves needed to take control of Saturday night’s game.  The Kings allowed the Wolves to outscore them 31-14 in the third quarter en route to a 108-97 loss at Sleep Train Arena.

“I thought it was average at best,” Kings head coach Michael Malone said of his team’s energy level coming out of halftime.  “And I thought as our offense struggled, which is a sign of a young team, we allowed our offensive struggles and our turnovers to dictate our energy and our effort on the defensive end.”

Rudy Gay led the Kings with 24 points, but scored 22 of them before halftime.  He was unable to return to form after intermission, taking just three shots and scoring two points in the third and fourth periods.

“I believe the (Wolves) did make an adjustment,” said Kings center DeMarcus Cousins, who finished with 21 points and 17 rebounds, of what the Timberwolves did to slow Gay down after halftime. “And as a team, we gotta make an adjustment and find ways to get him, the hot guy, better opportunities to score, which I think we didn’t really do a good job of.  As their team made an adjustment, I believe we needed to do the same.”

Turnovers proved costly for the Kings in defeat.  They recorded 22 assists, but coughed up the ball 19 times.  Their 18 miscues led to 27 points off turnovers for the Timberwolves in victory.

“For whatever reason, we just continue to beat ourselves,” Malone said.  “We had 19 turnovers and gave them 27 points.  Good teams don’t beat themselves like that.  It’s very hard in the same game to beat your opponent and yourself, but did that tonight.”

The Kings made things interesting in the final quarter.  Trailing by 13 points heading into the final frame, the Kings reserves trimmed the deficit to single digits.  Rookie Ray McCallum led the charge and finished with a career-high nine points and a career-high-tying five assists.

“It’s slowing down a lot,” McCallum said when asked about how how he’s adjusting the speed of the game.  “Since the All-Star Break, probably the first two or three games, it was a little fast.  Watched a little film and now these last couple games, it’s really slowed down a lot.  I’m able to feel real comfortable out there now where I can get shots and where I can find guys and really get a feel for everyone on this team.”

With the exception of McCallum and with the game in reach, Malone went back to his starters late in the period and they went on to nearly complete the comeback.  However, the Wolves closed out the final 2:09 of the fourth quarter on an 11-2 run, highlighted by a rare 3-point make by Ricky Rubio in the waning minute of play.

“Big three, big three, clutch three,” Timberwolves head coach Rick Adelman said of Rubio’s clutch shot.  “The more of those he can make, the better off he’s going to be.  The more confidence he’s going to have.”

The Kings fall to 20-39 overall, 12-19 at Sleep Train Arena.  They have tomorrow off before returning to action Monday against former Kings swingman Tyreke Evans and New Orleans Pelicans.

Notes and Analysis

  • Rudy Gay was unstoppable in the first half, but completely disappeared after the break. After dropping in 22 points on 8-for-11 shooting in the first two quarters, Gay scored just two more points and took only three more shots the rest of the way out.
  • Welcome back, DeMarcus Cousins. The Kings starting center missed Friday night’s game against the Lakers due to league suspension, but he returned with force tonight against Minnesota. Cousins finished with 21 points, 17 rebounds and three blocked shots and more importantly, he made it through the night without picking up his 16th technical foul of the season.
  • Isaiah Thomas gave the Kings their third 20-plus scorer of the night, finishing with 22 points on 10-of-18 shooting. Thomas added eight assists in the loss, but struggled from the perimeter while missing all five of his 3-point attempts.
  • With Ben McLemore and Orlando Johnson STRUGGLING, Ray McCallum filled in at shooting guard late in this one. The former second-round pick finished with a career-high nine points and tied his career-high in assists with five. More than the points or assists, McCallum played solid defense on Kevin Martin late, limiting the former King to just two points in the fourth quarter on 0-for-3 shooting from the field.
  • McLemore looked confident on the offensive end, but Martin tormented him on the defensive end, scoring 19 of his game-high 26 on the rookie in the first half. McLemore finished with seven points on 3-of-7 shooting, but he he turned the ball over five times and finished with just a single rebound and assist in 21 minutes. Johnson didn’t fair any better, scoring two points in 12 minutes on 1-of-8 shooting.
  • Reggie Evans continues to be a momentum changer for the Kings. He might not wow you with his stats, but since joining the Kings in the Marcus Thornton trade, he has had a positive influence on the flow of the game. The veteran forward finished with four points and nine rebounds in 14 minutes.
  • Stat of the Night: After leading by three going to the break, the Kings were outscored 31-14 in a disastrous third quarter.

Quote of the Night

Rick Adelman on Sacramento:

“The fans are great.  I’ve said all along.  When we had our run here, the fans were unbelievable.  They remind me so much of the Portland fans of how they really get into it and they deserve to keep this team.  It’s pretty obvious they really need a new arena.  It’s been that way since I was here.  I’m happy for them.  The (new) owner sounds like he’s gonna try to make things happen and I think it’s great for this city.  It’s a great area.  The players who play here really love it and that’s because of the fans.”

Video shot and edited by Kimani David.

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About: Jonathan Santiago

Jonathan Santiago serves Cowbell Kingdom as senior editor specializing in writing, podcasting and video production. He also handles the majority of CK’s day-to-day beat coverage of the Kings.