Sacramento Kings beat Timberwolves, advance to 2014 Summer League quarterfinals

by Jonathan Santiago & James Ham

Kings' bench against the Timberwolves. (Photo: Jonathan Santiago)

LAS VEGAS – The Sacramento Kings remain in the hunt for this year’s Summer League crown.  The Kings withstood a late-game surge by Minnesota to hold off the Timberwolves 100-86 in a second-round game of this year’s Las Vegas Summer League tournament.

Sacramento had an answer for two fourth quarter runs by the Minnesota Timberwolves.  The Wolves opened the final period with a 6-1 surge that was dampened when Kings summer league coach Ty Corbin put his starters back in the game.  Minnesota also went on an 11-nothing run that Sacramento was able to withstand late in the deciding period.

“Every time they made a run, the thing I liked about it was we handled it,” Kings head coach Michael Malone said after the game.  “We showed a little bit of resiliency, didn’t get down on ourselves, kept on playing and we were able to build the lead again.”

The Kings were paced by Ben McLemore, who led the team in scoring with 22 points. Fellow shooting guard MarShon Brooks came off the Kings’ bench to chip in 19 points in the 14-point victory.  The Kings move onto play the winner of Friday’s match-up between the Chicago Bulls and Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday.

Further notes and analysis are down below.

  • Ben McLemore’s confidence is building. After a rough start to the Summer League, the 21-year-old guard has strung together back-to-back solid performances. After dropping in 18 points last time out, McLemore dropped in 22 points, grabbed six rebounds and handed out four assists.
  • McLemore admitted he had been pressing in the Kings’ first two games.  His play in the Kings’ last two contests have been the complete opposite.  “I was so anxious to go out there and play,” McLemore said.  “Moving so fast, not playing the game like I was during the second half of the season in Sac.  I had to just go back to that comfort zone where (I had been) throughout the season and just playing (like) myself, playing my game, going out there being comfortable, being consistent – little things like that.”
  • Quincy Acy continued to impress, dropping in 15 points and grabbing seven rebounds in 28 minutes. In the Kings’ first four games, the former Baylor product is averaging 13.3 points and 7.5 rebounds while he fights to have his contract picked up by the Kings. Acy is an NBA player, be it in Sacramento or elsewhere next season.
  • MarShon Brooks may or may not be in the Kings master plan, but the veteran guard has certainly played well enough to play for them tnext season. Brooks came off the bench to score 19 points on 6-for-10 shooting in just 18 minutes today. He struggles to create for others and he’s not a great defender, but Sacramento could really use his versatility as a scorer.
  • Brooks is a proven scorer, but has had a reputation of taking ill-advised shots in the past.  Coach Malone complimented Brooks’ ability to score within the flow of the Kings’ offense on Thursday.  “That’s just growth,” Brooks said after the game.  “In the past, I was forcing things when it wasn’t there.  Now I’m just letting the game come to me and taking what’s there.  And I think that’s what’s gonna take my game to the next level.”
  • Ray McCallum shot 6-of-7 from the field and finished with 13 points, five assists and four rebounds in 27 minutes of action. This is McCallum’s team and he is starting to assert himself. Now, the question becomes whether he can lead them through the Summer League tournament bracket.
  • After sitting out the last two games due to coach’s decision, Jared Cunningham had his best game to date.  The 23-year-old guard scored nine points in 13 minutes off the Kings’ bench.  “I give Jared credit,” Malone said of the third-year guard.  “He did not play the last two games at all.  We gave those minutes to Ra’Shad James.  But to Jared’s credit, I thought he came in and stayed ready to play and he gave us really good minutes, especially in that first half. “
  • Nik Stauskas had a quiet game, but still managed to dish out five assists in 24 minutes. The Kings had scoring options today, but Stauskas needs to call for the ball. Just one made shot on three attempts from the field is not what anyone wants to see from the rookie guard.
  • Malone on Stauskas: “I don’t know if anything went wrong per say.  But we had a lot of other guys play well.  In summer league, you’re not gonna have all five starters play well.  Quincy did a very good job for us.  Ben, MarShon Brooks off the bench, Ray had a good game.  I think in the second half because of foul trouble, we put (Nik) on Shabazz Muhammad who’s a very tough cover.  But he’ll be fine.  The great thing is we’ll have a day to practice tomorrow and we play on Saturday night.”
  • Derrick Williams was not in the building for Thursday’s game against the Timberwolves.  According to Malone, he is not expected to return to Las Vegas and that playing three games was the plan for the forward out of Arizona.
  • Alex Oriakhi made his first appearance in a Kings uniform. At 6-foot-9, 255 lbs., the former UConn and Missouri big man likes to bang and even blocked two shots in 19 minutes. Taken in the second round of the 2013 NBA Draft by the Phoenix Suns, the 24-year-old big man came to Sacramento in the Isaiah Thomas sign and trade.

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