Wolves come up short against Kings
MINNEAPOLIS — Forward Rudy Gay scored season-high 33 points, including a 3-pointer with 19.5 seconds left, to send the Sacramento Kings past the Minnesota Timberwolves 111-108 on Wednesday night at Target Center.
Guard Isiah Thomas scored 26 points and center DeMarcus Cousins added 20, and forward Derrick Williams tallied 16 in his first game back at Target Center since being traded away by the Wolves.
Sacramento, in control most of the night, held off a late rush by the Timberwolves, who got 27 points and 11 points from forward Kevin Love and 14 points each from guard Kevin Martin, center Nikokla Pekovic and guard J.J. Barea.
Behind since late in the second quarter and down 102-91 with 3:18 left to play, the Wolves put on an 8-0 rush to pull within 102-99 on point guard Alexey Shved’s basket with 1:01 left.
After Cousins scored at the other end, Love’s 3-pointer made it 104-102 with 39.9 seconds left. Gay hit a three pointer with 19.5 left, but Love answered with another trey with 17.9 left.
Cousins hit two free throws, but Barea’s three-point play with 4.6 seconds left made it 109-108. Ultimately, with 4.1 seconds left, Thomas made two free throws to seal the victory, the Kings’ fourth in five games.
Gay had eight points in the first quarter, 14 in the second, four in the third and seven in the fourth.
The Wolves (18-20) had six players score in double figures, but only Love did it while shooting better than 50 percent as Minnesota lost for the third time in four games.
Sacramento had the edge in nearly every category, including shooting, where the Kings shot 54.9 percent to the Wolves’ 44.3.
The Kings took control of the game for good with four minutes left in the fourth quarter, right after Barea’s 3-pointer had pulled the Wolves into a 43-all tie.
The Kings responded by out-scoring Minnesota 15-4 over the final minutes of the half to take a 58-47 halftime lead.
Gay had seven points in that 15-4 run, which began with Cousins’ 7-foot fade-away jumper and ended with Aaron Gray’s dunk at the end of the half.
Minnesota never got any closer than seven in the third quarter, which ended with Sacramento up 10. Minnesota had five players score in double figures, but none of them shot better than 50 percent while doing so.
Notes: Wednesday marked the first time since his late-November trade that F Derrick Williams returned to Target Center, where his NBA career began. Williams, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2011 draft, was sent to the Sacramento Kings for F Luc Mbah a Moute on Nov. 26. It has been an up-and-down story for Williams in Sacramento, especially since the Kings acquired F Rudy Gay, which limited Williams’ minutes at small forward. He is averaging 9.5 points and 25 minutes off the bench. Still, he said, it’s a better fit. “I think it fits my style more, the offense here,” he said of the Kings. I feel a little more free on the court.”‘ ... After initially balking at the idea of going to the Development League, Wolves rookie F Shabazz Muhammad said his four-game stint with the Iowa Energy — during which he averaged 24.5 points and 9.8 rebounds per game — as a plus. “It was a good thing,” he said. “It gave me a lot of confidence. I believe I can really help this team out if I get the opportunity.”