Game 25 Preview: Kings at Timberwolves

On the road, the Sacramento Kings rallied from an 18-point deficit to defeat the New Orleans Hornets 100-92 yesterday.  They wrap up a back-to-back set of road games tonight in Minneapolis and face a Love-less Minnesota Timberwolves.

Gametime: 5:00 pm PST

Broadcast Information: Click here.

For Timberwolves perspective, visit fellow TrueHoop Network blog A Wolf Among Wolves.

Kings Probable Starters (9-15)

Tyreke Evans Marcus Thornton John Salmons Jason Thompson DeMarcus Cousins

The Kings were a completely different team in the second half of last night’s win in New Orleans.  They made only 14 baskets on 40 attempts before intermission.  But after the break, they shot 63.2 percent from the field on 24-of-38 attempts.  DeMarcus Cousins continues to become a force, nearly putting together another 20-point, 20-rebound performance last night.  And Isaiah Thomas’ steady play off the bench continues to show why he’s earned the trust of head coach Keith Smart.  Eight of his 17 points were scored in the fourth quarter, including two made-threes from beyond the arc.

Timberwolves Probable Starters (12-12)

Ricky Rubio Luke Ridnour Wes Johnson Derrick Williams Nikola Pekovic

Kevin Love will not play tonight due to suspension.  Almost halfway through the third quarter of the Timberwolves’ match-up versus Houston, Love appeared to stomp on the chest of forward Luis Scola, who was down on the court.

So in his absence, rookie Derrick Williams is the Timberwolves probable starter at power forward.  Per 36 minutes, Williams is averaging 14.7 points on 42.7 percent shooting and 7.7 rebounds.

3-on-3 Roundtable

You may be familiar with’s 5-on-5 roundtables, which feature opinion and analysis from ESPN writers and TrueHoop Network contributors on pressing NBA topics. Along with other THN blogs, Cowbell Kingdom has brought that format to the local level in the form of our own 3-on-3 roundtable.

Zach Harper of ESPN’s Daily Dime Live and A Wolf Among Wolves, and Brett Koremenos, editor-in-chief of NBA Playbook,  join me to preview tonight’s Kings/Wolves match-up.

1. Match-up to watch?

Zach Harper: Definitely DeMarcus Cousins vs Nikola Pekovic.  Both big men have been on a tear lately and it only seems logical that one of them won’t make it out of this game alive.  These guys love to throw their bodies around and try to impact the boards. If Pek can provide half of Kevin Love production, then the Wolves have a great chance of getting Cousins in foul trouble and controlling the interior.

Brett Koremenos:  Evans and Rubio certainly will be the name match-up, but the most entertaining will be DeMarcus Cousins versus Nikola Pekovic. They are two of the more powerful, physical players in the league and watching them knock each other around will be quite the site.

Jonathan Santiago:  Derrick Williams vs. Jason Thompson.  It appears that Williams will get the start for Kevin Love.  He’s a hybrid four who will probably force JT to defend out in the perimeter.  If that proves to be a problem, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Travis Outlaw or Donté Greene get some extra run at the four in an effort to slow down the rookie.

2. Stat that decides the game…

Zach Harper: Turnovers.  The Kings and Wolves are 17th and 19th respectively in turnover rate.  Not having Love as a safety valve on a lot of plays will force Ricky Rubio to create more for himself and his teammates, especially when the clock is running down.  The Kings, on the other hand, don’t really like to pass, but they love to dribble into areas that cause them turnovers.  If they share and take care of the ball, they should be able to take another road victory.

Brett Koremenos:  Offensive rebounds. With Love out, the Wolves lose not only someone who earned them extra possessions, but a player who prevented them as well. It will be interesting to see if and how the Kings can take advantage of Love’s missing presence.

Jonathan Santiago:  Luke Ridnour threes.  Sounds a little out-there, doesn’t it?  But, the Timberwolves guard went four-of-four (including two big threes in the final six minutes) in the Kings’ last visit to Minnesota.  His three-point stroke was a big reason why he finished with a season-high 25 points in the Wolves 99-86 win over Sacramento.

3. Complete this sentence: ______ will need to step up in Kevin Love’s absence.

Zach Harper: Derrick Williams.  Pekovic is a huge part of the equation, but he’s played so well recently that I just assume he’ll continue.  Derrick, on the other hand, should be seeing significant minutes at the four and has to find a way to show why he was the second overall pick in the draft.  He needs to put the Kings on notice and attack the basket.  He needs to keep them honest with his three-point range.  And he also has to rebound the ball and be active on defense.

Brett Koremenos:  It’d be easy to say that Michael Beasley needs to put more points on the board (ditto for Derrick Williams) but this is a nice opportunity for Anthony Randolph to perhaps get some run. If Randolph gets a shot to soak up the minutes left behind during Love’s suspension, he must produce.

Jonathan Santiago:  Nikola Pekovic.  It was against the lowly New Jersey Nets, but the man posted a career-high 27 points to go along with 11 rebounds on Friday night.  And versus Houston the following day, he scored just 11 points, but was four-of-seven from the field in a 100-91 win.  Pekovic must continue to provide presence inside for the Timberwolves tonight with Love out of the lineup.


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.

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