Preview: Sacramento Kings (10-15) at the Minnesota Timberwolves (9-16)


Riding the high of a 3 game winning streak, the Sacramento Kings (10-15) are in Minnesota tonight to test their luck against the young, but talented Timberwolves (9-16).

The Kings currently sit 1 game back of the Denver Nuggets, who would be the 8th seed in the Western Conference if the playoffs were to start today. After starting the season with a 1-5 record at Sleep Train Arena, Sacramento have won 7 of their last 9 home games, including a “home” loss to the Boston Celtics in Mexico City.

As fortunate as that situation may seem, the Kings still face the challenge of getting wins on the road. Beginning the season so far with a 2-9 record on the road, this 4 game road trip that begins tonight against the Timberwolves will be an opportunity to demonstrate some much needed improvement away from Sleep Train Arena.

Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Luckily, the Kings regain the services of point guard Rajon Rondo after serving a 1-game suspension on Tuesday night during the Kings’ 107-97 win against the Houston Rockets. Rondo has been heavily criticized since Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reported that Rajon had used a homophobic slur towards referee Bill Kennedy. Bill Kennedy revealed that he is gay in response to the incident, adding to the controversy surrounding Rondo’s actions. Rondo issued a formal apology on Tuesday in response to the reports.

Rajon will look to continue his all around dominance on the court while matching up against fellow pass first point guard, Ricky Rubio. Rondo is averaging 12.6 points, 11.0 assists, and 6.9 rebounds per game, while shooting a surprising 37.5% from 3-point range.

Rubio did not play during the last matchup between these two teams, in which the Timberwolves bullied the Kings in Sleep Train Arena to claim a 101-91 win on the road.

More from Kings News

The Timberwolves’ point guard is averaging 9.8 points and 8.7 assists per game, but is shooting only 34.2% from the floor, and drawing some heavy criticism for having the lowest career field goal percentage of any player with over 5,000 minutes in the last 50 years (credit to Aaron Gleeman for the cruel observation).

Another player that will play Friday, but missed the previous meeting between the two clubs is Kings’ allstar DeMarcus Cousins. Through 17 games, Cousins is averaging 25.7 points and 10.7 rebounds per game.

With Boogie in the lineup, the Kings will try to take advantage of the Timberwolves youth in the post, specifically against rookie center Karl Anthony-Towns. Look for DeMarcus to go at Towns early and often, as he’ll attempt to overpower him and draw quick fouls that sideline the young rookie.

More from A Royal Pain

However, don’t expect Towns to back down from this challenge by any means. The 1st overall pick is averaging 15.4 points and 9.1 rebounds in only 28 minutes per game. His per 36 numbers are 19.8 points and 11.7 rebounds per game, which is very impressive for a rookie. With any lack of focus, Cousins and the Kings could find themselves on the other end of a dominant center taking over the game.

At face value, a Kings-Timberwolves matchup isn’t exactly “game of the night” material on a given Friday evening. But with great battles at both the point guard and center positions, not to mention Rudy Gay and Andrew Wiggins facing off as the starting small forwards, this might be a game that NBA fans will regret glossing over by the end of the night. With so much explosive talent on the court, there is bound to be fireworks.