We’ve reached that point in the Sacramento Kings season where breaking down games starts to sound like a broken record. You can admire the team’s effort against the Minnesota T-Wolves, battling without DeMarcus Cousins in the 7th game of a tough road trip. You can point to handful of areas where the Kings really looked good — shooting, rebounding. But at the end of the day, the result was a loss, and that’s got to wear on players and fans alike. Much like Saturday’s game in Chicago, Sacramento just had a few lapses down the stretch that erased an otherwise strong performance. The T-Wolves had two players, Kevin Love and Kevin Martin (57 combined points), who made the Kings pay and helped Minnesota to a narrow 104-102 victory.
MINOR MISCUES LOOM LARGE – Derrick Williams put the Kings on top 95-94 with 1:25 left, but the subsequent three-play sequence really turned momentum back in Mnnesota’s favor. Rudy Gay (26 MIN, 14 PTS, 6-15 FG, 6 REB, 2 AST, 3 TO) delivered a terrific block on a Kevin Martin lay-up, but in the mayhem of the loose ball, Quincy Acy lost track of Kevin Love. That’s a major no-no, and Love drilled a three-pointer to give Minnesota the lead. Isaiah Thomas (33 MIN, 27 PTS, 11-21 FG, 4-10 3FG, 6 REB, 7 AST, 2 TO, 1 STL) got loose with the dribble on the ensuing possession, and Ricky Rubio made him pay with a steal. Isaiah compounded the error by fouling with the Kings down three and 41 seconds left. Three consecutive mistakes put the Kings behind the eight-ball.
LATE-GAME TRIPLE BARRAGE – Down three with 41 seconds left, the Kings went on the offensive. Sacramento got three solid looks thanks to two offensive boards on one possession — Rudy Gay missed a jumper in the key and a triple from the wing before Isaiah Thomas missed a contested three from the top of the arc. With Minnesota seizing a five-point lead, Isaiah refused to give up, drilling back-to-back triples in between Martin free throws. Unfortunately, a third attempt was pre-empted by a heady Rubio foul, and the T-Wolves held on. But much credit to the Kings, especially Thomas, for battling to the final buzzer. It just wasn’t enough.
D-WILL BURNS FORMER TEAM – It seems that whenever a Kings frontcourt player is missing in action, Derrick Williams (28 MIN, 26 PTS, 8-15 FG, 2-4 3FG, 8-10 FT, 11 REB, 1 STL, 3 TO) makes the most of the added opportunities. Add in the fact that Williams was playing his former mates in Minnesota, and D-Will had plenty of motivation. Williams got it going early, asserting himself immediately upon entering the game. D-Will scored in a variety of ways — he succeeded with his attacking dribble drives but also showed great touch from the perimeter. Williams kept it going in the second half, scoring 10 points in the fourth quarter to keep the Kings even with Minnesota. The challenge for Coach Michael Malone, as it always is after games like these, is to get Williams involved no matter who the opponent is. We know the mismatches he presents, but the Kings have to do a better job of exploiting them regularly.
OTHER OBSERVATIONS – Ben McLemore (19 MIN, 4 PTS, 2-4 FG, 4 REB, 6 PF) received a raw deal, getting burned on some vintage Kevin Martin drawn fouls. Offensively, he was quiet and shot zero threes a night after missing seven … Aaron Gray (19 MIN, 4 PTS, 2-3 FG, 4 REB, 1 STL, 1 BLK) got the start for Cousins, and despite a prolonged absence from the floor, he provided solid minutes … The Kings shot 48.2 percent from the floor.
Tags: Sacramento Kings