The Kings face the Timberwolves for the third and final time this season. The two teams have split the two meetings this season with each winning on the others home court. Last season, the two teams split the series, 2-2. The Kings won their season opener in Minnesota 117-116, and two weeks later Minnesota returned the favor by getting their first road victory in 17 games going back to February 23, 2010.
Francisco Garcia started the season opener in place of Tyreke who sat out a one game suspension. Cisco scored 22 points and Carl Landry recorded a double-double with 22 points and a game-high 11 rebounds to lead the Kings in their win over the Timberwolves. DeMarcus Cousins finished with 14 points, eight rebounds, and five assists in his NBA debut. Udrih contributed 18 points, Luther Head added 14 points off the bench, and Casspi finished with 10 points.
Kevin Love recorded a double-double with 11 points and a team-high 10 rebounds. Michael Beasley, who was acquired in the offseason for some magic beans, recorded 17 points and seven rebounds. Luke Ridnour, who signed a 4yr $16M contract in the summer, led the Timberwolves with 20 points. And, with 56.6 seconds left he buried a three-pointer to pull Minnesota within one, 111-110. The Kings responded as Udrih handed off to Omri Casspi for a dunk for a 113-112 advantage with 34.8 seconds remaining. Minnesota continued to score on the next two possessions, but each time Beno answered at the FT Line by making both his FT’s to preserve the one point victory. The Kings dished out 25 assists and scored 22 points off 13 Minnesota turnovers.
The 2nd game was two weeks later on November 10 in Arco Arena with Minnesota prevailing 98-89. Michael Beasley scored a career-high and game-high 42 points. The Timberwolves led, 74-72, entering the fourth quarter. Then with 3:51 left and the Kings down by three 85-82 , the Timberwolves went on a 6-0 run to take a nine-point lead 91-82, and put the game away. Omri Casspi led the Kings with 18 points. Beno Udrih finished with 16 points and nine assists. Tyreke Evans, who entered the game with a team-leading 22.6 scoring average, tallied five points, three rebounds, and nine assists.
Beasley’s 27pts on 12 field goals in the first half tied an ARCO record for most field goals made in a half. Beasley also grabbed a team-high nine rebounds. Sebastian Telfair scored 16 points and Wesley Johnson added 12 points. Kevin Love, who scored 23pts and had 24 rebs against the Lakers the night before, was held to eight points and nine rebounds.
At the trade deadline Minnesota was the 3rd party that made the Carmelo Anthony trade possible. They traded Kosta Koufos to Denver and Corey Brewer to New York, and received Anthony Randolph, Eddy Curry and cash from New York, and a 2015 second round pick from Denver. Curry’s contract was bought out by the Timberwolves a week after the trade deadline before he could play a single game for them.
For the Month of March, the Twolves are 1-5 on the road with losses to the Sixers, Wizards, Warriors, Jazz and the Lakers. Their lone win on the road was against the Pistons. At home Minnesota is 2-2 with wins against the Jazz and Pacers while losing to the Lakers and Mav’s. In March the Twolves are averaging 100.0 ppg on 44.5% from the field and 37.7% from three. They are averaging 46.0 rpg and 13.0 on the offensive glass. The Kings are averaging 101.7 ppg, on 46.0% field and 36.6% from three. They are averaging 45.4 rpg and 13.8 on the offensive glass.
With number so similar it’s not surprising that their winning percentages are only 0.004 apart. The Kings are currently tied for the 2nd worst record in the NBA and the Twolves have the 4th worst record. But, if the Kings were to win, the two teams would exchange positions.
Minnesota’s leading scorer is of course starting PF Kevin Love who has played all 69 games and is averaging 20.7pts and 15.7 rebs. The next 4 in the top 5 scorers were all acquired last summer. Starting SF Michael Beasley who’s averaging 19 pts 5.5 rebounds and starting PG Luke Ridnour who averages 11.9 pts and 5.3 assists are the only other double digit scorers besides Love. Martell Webster is 4th averaging 9.9 pts and 3.1 rebs off the bench. Webster was acquired in a draft day trade with Portland for Ryan Gomes and Luke Babbitt who was the 16th pick in the draft by Minnesota. Starting SG Wesley Johnson who was the 4th pick in last summer’s NBA Draft is averaging 9.0 pts 2.9 rebounds. The final starter and 6th highest scorer is Center Darko Milicic who averages 8.9pts and 5.3 rebounds.
Anthony Randolph whose played in 11 games since joining the team is averaging 7.2pt 3.7rebs in 14.5mpg. The remaining 4 major bench players are Sebastian Telfair, Wayne Ellington, Anthony Tolliver and Jonny Flynn. Each is averaging around 19 mpg while appearing in between half to three-quarters of the games.
The Kings and Twolves are 1 & 2 in Offensive Rebound Rate and in 2nd chance points and their Defensive Rebounding Rates are identical. The difference between the Off & Def Efficiency is 0.004 and the difference between their Assist Rate is 0.03. If you’re getting the idea that these teams are so close in ineptitude as to make picking a winner impossible, then I’ve accomplished my goal. The only thing that the Twolves need to do is take every advantage of our mistakes. And, the things the Kings need to do is stop turning over the ball and start making better shot selections. Just because Beno gives up his dribble to Sammy at the top of the Key, doesn’t mean Sammy should take the shot from there.
If two seasons of losing 75% of your games has the Kings folding up the tent early, then so be it. It will make the exodus from Sacramento that much easier to bear. But, for crying out loud, have some pride and at least try not to lose to 2 of the 4 worst teams in the league in the same week.