The Kings won both of the first two contests by 11 points each, but had yet to find an answer for Minnesota’s star center, Karl-Anthony Towns. He averaged 29 points, 15 rebounds, and 2 blocks in their previous meetings.
Tonight’s game was a back-to-back for Sacramento, who had traveled over 1,000 miles since their win in Dallas on Sunday night.
The fatigue of their recent schedule showed on the Kings right away, as they fell behind 15-4 in the first four minutes. It looked like more of the same for Karl-Anthony Towns as he racked up 5 points, 4 rebounds, and a pair of blocks in that time.
At least the birthday boy, Buddy Hield, was finding some good fortune. He was red hot, scoring 16 of Sacramento’s first 17 points. His first four triples found the bottom of the net as he singlehandedly kept Sacramento in the game.
The Kings were within 5 at the peak of Buddy’s hot streak, but no one stepped up as Hield cooled off. They finished the first quarter down 23-38.
The second quarter didn’t go much better. A Gorgui Dieng dunk with 8 minutes left in the half doubled up the Kings, 26-52. Sacramento’s reserves were already entering the game.
It was clear that Minnesota was having themselves a get-right game as the second quarter was neared it’s end. Both Karl-Anthony Towns and Derrick Rose recorded double-doubles by halftime. When the buzzer sounded the scoreboard read 44-74.
The Kings gave up the ghost and went with backups to start the second half, going to Yogi Ferrell, Justin Jackson, Troy Williams, Skal Labissiere, and Kosta Koufos.
The subs got it going in the third, starting the half on a blistering 21-3 run and cutting the lead to just 12 points.
Minnesota turned the tide back toward their favor however, answering with 10 straight points of their own. The Kings bench definitely showed signs of life, but ultimately the game was in the bag when the third quarter ended 77-103.
The silver lining of this game came in the form of plentiful minutes for Sacramento’s younger reserves. Aside from Koufos, no Kings player over 25 years-old saw the floor in the second half.
Yogi Ferrell was the standout off the bench, scoring 16 points in 24 minutes. He appears to have the advantage over Frank Mason III for the backup point guard position right now, though Mason acquitted himself nicely as well with 12 points and 6 assists.
In the front court, Harry Giles got some much needed work. He tallied a career high 13 points in 22 minutes. Skal Labissiere also saw season highs in minutes, points, rebounds, and blocks.
The Kings will look to turn things around on Wednesday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Tip-off is at 7:00 pm PST at the Golden 1 Center in downtown Sacramento.