Notebook: Wolves 92, Kings 80

Posted Nov 3, 2012 12:07 AM

By Phil Miller, for

THE FACTS: Two players who sat out the 2011-12 season, Andrei Kirilenko and Brandon Roy, scored 10 points apiece in their return to the NBA on Friday, and point guard J.J. Barea scored 21 points and sparked a second-half rally as the Minnesota Timberwolves opened their season with a 92-80 victory over the Sacramento Kings. Both teams made less than 37 percent of their shots, but Minnesota took advantage of the Kings' foul problems and rode a Barea-directed 12-0 run late in the third quarter to pull ahead for good. Sacramento scored only 15 fourth-quarter points to fall to 0-2 on the season. Both teams were led in scoring by their smallest players, Barea for Minnesota, and point guard Isaiah Thomas, who had 21 points on 7-for-13 shooting.

QUOTABLE: "At the end of games, there are a lot of arms up there, but two of them are mine."
-- Wolves' Andrei Kirilenko, who had three rebounds and a block in the final five minutes.

THE STAT: 23.1 -- Sacramento's shooting percentage (6-for-26) from the moment it opened their widest lead, 61-56, with 5:26 to go in the third quarter, to the end of the game, a stretch in which the Kings were outscored 36-19.

TURNING POINT: The Kings had rallied from an 18-point deficit to overtake the Timberwolves midway through the third quarter, when Sacramento center DeMarcus Cousins stepped in front of Barea and turned his shoulder to draw contact as the point guard tried to drive past. Cousins was whistled for his fifth personal foul, and was quickly removed from the game. By the time the Kings' center returned to the game eight minutes later, Minnesota, which kept driving to the basket in Cousins' absence, had retaken a five-point lead and was rolling toward a victory.

QUOTABLE II: "Hey, Tornado! Tornado! Or maybe Tasmanian Devil -- we've got to give him a nickname."
-- Wolves guard Will Conroy, on hyper-energetic Barea, who led Minnesota with 21 points in 27 minutes.

FANTASY SPOTLIGHT: Roy's jumpshot appeared a little rusty in his first NBA game since April 28, 2011, but coach Rick Adelman urged him to continue shooting, and he finished with 10 points on 4-for-14 shooting. With Kevin Love injured, Adelman said Roy will be counted on to provide fourth-quarter scoring in close games.

INSIDE THE ARENA: The Timberwolves announced a capacity crowd of 19,356, the second straight season their opener has sold out. Minnesota filled Target Center 11 times last season, the most since they had 15 in 2003-04.

GOOD MOVE: Adelman said he made the surprise decision to start Derrick Williams over Dante Cunningham at forward because he felt Cunningham would provide more energy off the bench. He was right; Cunningham, along with Barea and center Greg Stiemsma, helped power Minnesota to a 46-28 scoring advantage over Sacramento's bench.

BAD MOVE: Sacramento exploited an 8-2 advantage in fast-break points in the third quarter to rally from an 18-point deficit, but the Kings stopped pushing the ball down the stretch, choosing a series of one-on-one plays and jump shots in the fourth quarter. Without a fast-break point, Sacramento managed only 15 fourth-quarter points.

ROOKIE WATCH: Neither team's lone rookie had much effect on the game. Kings forward Thomas Robinson, drafted fifth overall last June, scored two points on a pair of free throws in 12 minutes, though he did have two steals and two rebounds. Minnesota guard Alexey Shved went scoreless in 15 minutes, missing all three of his shots.

NOTABLE: Kings swingman John Salmons returned to the Kings after a two-week absence due to the birth of his third child, a son he named Caleb. Sacramento coach Keith Smart said the 10-year veteran would need several days to work himself back into game shape before he can play again. ... Sacramento made only 36.0 percent of its shots, the best showing by a Wolves defense since Washington made 34.5 percent on Jan. 8, 2012. Minnesota led the NBA in scoring defense (80.9 points) and opponent field-goal percentage (38.3 percent). ... Kings point guard Isaiah Thomas scored 14 of his team-high 20 points in the third quarter on 5-for-7 shooting, including 3-for-5 from 3-point range. ... The Wolves improved to 16-8 in home openers. They have opened 12 consecutive seasons in Target Center. ... Forward Chuck Hayes came off the bench to grab a game-high 11 rebounds for the Kings.

UP NEXT: For the Kings, Saturday @ Indiana, Monday vs. Warriors, Wednesday vs. Pistons. For the Timberwolves, Sunday Toronto, Monday @ Brooklyn, Wednesday vs. Magic.