At this point, I have to convince myself that the Sacramento Kings played a game last night. Winning the game meant nothing for either team; the Wolves' only concern was further experience for their young talented core, and the Kings... well they're better off losing. The Wolves now have gone 4-0 against the Kings this season, probably single-handedly ensuring that the Kings keep their lottery pick this season.
The Wolves held a lead for most of the game, with the Kings offering limited challenges to the result. Darren Collison led the charge for the Kings with 19 points on 12 shots, continuing to put a stamp on a successful individual season for him. Willie Cauley-Stein also had a really good game against his former college teammate with 15 points on 12 shots. He continues to prove that he is far more offensively advanced than scouts gave him credit for. It is a great sign for his future that he doesn't need to develop new skills from scratch, rather just polish the skills he has and gain some experience to deploy those skills more effectively. Future is bright for him.
On the other hand, Rudy Gay had another miserable night. Gay has struggled mightily against Andrew Wiggins and the Wolves this season. Wiggins is like a younger version of Rudy, a super-athletic pogo stick with supreme to-the-basket skills who will surpass him in the near future if he hasn't done so already. It was painful to watch Rudy try to create in isolation over and over again against Wiggins' length and speed. Gay ended the game with only 13 points on 15 shots, with 5 turnovers to boot.
For the Wolves, Gorgui Dieng continues to give the Kings problems because the Kings simply refused to guard him. Dieng is a polished big man with a decent offensive game, which makes it a mystery why the Kings would leave him so open to shoot so often. He mixed it up inside as well, grabbing five offensive rebounds and finishing contested looks in the paint. To the chagrin of Jerry Reynolds and delight of Grant Napear, Nemanja Bjelica came off the bench and bombed the Kings from deep. The Kings have in particular struggled to defend stretch fours for a long time, so that wasn't all that surprising.
The Kings now have one last game at home this season to close out the 28 year run of Sleep Train Arena for good. The Kings play the Thunder on Saturday, but lets be honest, the actual basketball played is going to be an afterthought. There is a massive list of ex-Kings players, coaches, and figures attending (sorry, I refuse to call many them "legends") and it's going to be a celebration of NBA basketball in this city in general. Hope to see you all there!
- Seth Curry finally crashed back down to earth after having a successful run of games. Even so, he scored 10 points and hit 2/3 on three pointers. Curry struggled to defend Zach LaVine in the first quarter, who managed to escape Seth several times off of pindowns and at times just flat out used his length and athleticism to shoot over the smaller Curry. James Anderson got the start in the second half, and LaVine quieted down considerably.
- Is Quincy Acy's jumper for real? He's shooting 50% from three his last 10 games and is now up to 42% from three for the season on a small sample size. He peppered in some midrange jumpers tonight as well, and even made an impressive take to the basket capped by a thunderous dunk (but really, is there any other kind of Acy dunk?).
- Hot take alert: Karl-Anthony Towns is super talented. He didn't have an amazing game today, but when you're talking about a rookie 20 year old bigman going for 16/10 in a down game, you know you have something special. He pretty much single-handedly limited Kosta Koufos' time on the court by getting him in foul trouble, and Koufos is a solid defender. The one-on-one matchups between Cauley-Stein and Towns was the most fun part of the night for me. Willie really defended him well.
- Its amazing how many of the shooting guards from the 2013 draft are better than Ben McLemore. Tonight we saw another one in Shabazz Muhammad. Muhammad didn't have a great game, but he looked in control and has a far more defined game than Ben has.
For the opponent's perspective, visit Canis Hoopus