The optimistic can honestly believe the Kings defense tightened up in the second half, because it did, a good degree. The Kings sealed off the defensive glass better than they had in the second quarter, where they gave up six Minnesota offensive rebounds in 14 opportunities. Minnesota also shot much worse in the third frame (9-24) and Sacramento ripped away four steals during the period. The Sacramento defense played well ...
... and a really terrible offense, one which looked exceedingly tired. On its best days, Minnesota isn't going to be a fireworks show. And Saturday wasn't one of Minnesota's best days. So I'm chalking this victory (in which the Wolves scored 100 points in 105 possessions) up to minor defensive improvement against a really crummy opponent.
It'd be difficult to understate how bad a group of shooters Minnesota plays. Aykis hit on this in his "View" in the FanPosts, but seriously ... it's a wonder this team ever scores from outside of 10 feet. Missed shots that hit front iron are typically assigned exhaustion as a cause, but that's where the misses hit all night. Clank clank clank. Minnesota shot 43 percent from the field, in the second half just 36 percent. But again, that's not terribly rare: on the season the Wolves shoot 44 percent.
Meanwhile, the Kings offense hummed, scoring those 120 points in 105 possessions for an offensive rating near 115. Of the rotation players, only Donté Greene could be marked as inefficient (2-11 floor, 1 tov), but he was fantastic on defense in the halfcourt and in transition. Jason Thompson shared ownership of the paint with Al Jefferson, Spencer Hawes made deft passes, Tyreke Evans played well (even though he seemed muted most of the night ... I'll take 18/5/5, especially since most of that came during the contested first half). Sergio Rodriguez had -- and this is not a joke, this actually happened -- six assists in a 6-1/2 minute stint during the second quarter, and three assists in a 2-1/2 minte stint during the third. Nine minutes, nine assists, zero turnovers. (He also happened to be a +17 in those minutes.) His fourth quarter (no assists, four turnovers in 12 minutes) clouds Rodriguez's real impact, considering the game was never contested during the fourth.
In such a dominant win, there's really not much to say. The Kings definitely have more work to do on defense. But that's irrelevant against tired, terrible teams like the Wolves. The Blazers in Portland will be a far stronger test of whether this team can put together enough defense to be a season-long success story.