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Kings 121 - Wolves 110: Sacramento runs Minnesota out of the gym

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The Kings used a late fourth quarter run to ice the game.

Kimani Okearah

The Kings’ start on Friday night was about as rough as a sandpaper and salami sandwich. Sacramento began the game missing 10 of their first 12 shots, digging themselves into an early 19 - 7 hole. But, unlike past seasons, the kids refused to go down easily, ending the quarter on a 20 - 10 run and finished the first 12 minutes down just two points, despite Karl-Anthony Towns’ 14 points and 5 boards.

The second quarter went to the hometown team. Yogi Ferrell went on a personal 6 - 0 run midway through the second, with one traditional three-point play and one key shot from deep, giving the Kings a 39 - 36 lead. Sacramento managed to flip the script over the final few minutes, turning a two-point deficit into a two-point lead heading into the half. Willie Cauley-Stein recorded 17 points and grabbed 5 boards for the Kings, while Towns continued his strong play, scoring 29 points to go along with 8 boards midway through the game.

The third period was the true turning point of the game. Sacramento held the Wolves to just 20 points in the quarter, while dropping 29 of their own, and finally stopped the gushing wound in their defense that was Karl-Anthony Towns. Kosta Koufos stepped up in a huge way, and used his verticality and experience as a post defender to slow down the young star. Towns didn’t score his first bucket of the first half until two minutes remaining in the third, and he added just 10 points to his total in the second half.

The final 12 minutes showcased both the inexperience and determination of this up-and-coming core. The game seemed all but put away as Sacramento led the game 108 - 94 with 6 minutes remaining, but a late Minnesota run put the victory in danger. Derrick Rose hit back-to-back threes, and the Kings committed a couple of foolish turnovers and fouls to allow the Wolves right back into the game. The visiting squad capped off a 12 - 0 run with a corner three from former fan favorite Anthony Tolliver. Two possessions later, Jimmy Butler drew a foul on Iman Shumpert and headed to the charity stripe for a chance to tie the game with just over three minutes remaining. In a stroke of luck, Butler, a career 83% free throw shooter, missed both attempts, and the Kings used that fortunate break to go on a 7 - 0 run of their own, outscoring Minnesota 13 - 4 over that final stretch.

The Kings didn’t play a particularly pretty game, but they picked up an important win at home, improving to 7 - 5 on the season and moving up to the 7th seed in the Western Conference. Saturday night won’t bring much a reprieve, however, as Sacramento faces the LeBron-led Los Angeles Lakers at the Golden One center at 7:00pm PST.

Player of the Game

De’Aaron Fox: 16 points (3/7 FG, 9/12 FT, 1/1 3P), 4 rebounds, 10 assists, 1 steal, 1 block

Play of the Game

You’ll never see anything so beautiful:

Game Notes

  • Justin Jackson continued to lose his place in the rotation. He played 6:15 in the first half and did not see the court in the second. Meanwhile, Troy Williams played almost 20 minutes. Iman Shumpert’s strong play and Bogdan Bogdanovic’s scheduled return to the lineup Saturday night may sink Jackson’s spot on the depth chart.
  • Marvin Bagley also spent quite a bit of time in warm-ups. The rookie big man played just over 16 minutes, the second-fewest of his career, although his lack of use was due more to Kosta Koufos’ impressive defense on Karl-Anthony Towns than anything he did poorly.
  • Although he struggled offensively for most of the game, Buddy Hield still grabbed 10 rebounds, scored 15 points and led the team in minutes played.
  • Sacramento’s bench, a noted weak-spot thus far in the season, outscored Minnesota’s reserves 34 - 22.
  • Dave Joerger picked up his second technical foul in two games.