It was reunion time at the Target Center in Minneapolis on Wednesday night. Sacramento Kings forward Derrick Williams spent two seasons with the Minnesota Timberwolves, head coach Rick Adelman was once coach of the Kings during their golden era, while Wolves guard Kevin Martin played in Sacramento after being drafted by the Kings in 2004.
Adelman and Martin got a up-close look at the new version of the team from the city they once called home. They would probably like to switch.
The Kings scored 34 in the second quarter and were able to hold on to beat the Timberwolves 111-108 behind solid production from Rudy Gay, who had an efficient shooting day. Gay had 33 points on 19 shots and easily had the best game of his Kings career.
The added benefit of Gay practicing with the team is showing in the team’s play on court. The Kings have now won four of their last five and have climbed out of the basement of the Pacific division to move into fourth. At 14-23, it’s the small steps that matter in the Kings’ quest to turn around their season.
The team did suffer a setback, however, as rookie Ben McLemore played just seven minutes before leaving the game with a sprained ankle. He did not return and his status is day-to-day. Isaiah Thomas, who finished with 26 points and seven assists, hit an absolute dagger to push the lead to 10 with just two minutes to go, but Kevin Love and the Wolves stormed back.
In the end, Gay proved to be too much, with the same going for DeMarcus Cousins, who was a beast amongst boys in the paint.
Cousins, who was honored with this week as the Western Conference player of the week, overcame a slow start to finish with a double-double. He was on the verge of fouling out after picking up his fifth against Nikola Pekovic, but got rolling late in the third quarter as the Kings were able to push away. DeMarcus finished with 20 points and 11 rebounds, continuing to post All-Star numbers in what is quickly becoming his best season as a pro yet.
The hot shooting of the Kings also continued as the team shot 54 percent from the field and 41 percent from beyond the arc. Of course, the Kings are still making the mistakes young teams do as Thomas’ ball-handling has been awfully suspect. Isaiah had seven turnovers on Wednesday night and three in the rout by the Indiana Pacers the night before.
Ultimately, it will up to him to control the offense and to get Gay and Cousins going. This team is showing improvement but must continue to build upon it for true success.