THE FACTS: In a hard fought battle, the Sacramento Kings held on to beat the visiting Minnesota Timberwolves 101-98.
Isaiah Thomas led the way for the Kings, finishing with 24 points and six assists in 35 minutes of action. Tyreke Evans added 21 points, five rebounds and five assists, while DeMarcus Cousins scored 15 points and grabbed 14 rebounds.
Nikola Pekovic dominated early, scoring 13 points before halftime. He finished with an impressive 18-point, 12-rebound double-double for the Wolves, but hardly saw the ball after the break. The Minnesota bench, led by Dante Cunningham and J.J. Barea, outscored the Kings bench 46-24, but it wasn't enough to make up for the team's poor perimeter shooting.
THE STAT: Minnesota struggled from the perimeter, hitting just 1-for-19 from long range. Without the 3-ball, Pekovic became much easier to guard in the second half.
QUOTABLE: "It was just them missing. We were playing pretty good defense, but they had some good looks too. They're a good 3-point shooting team, but they were just missing."
-- Isaiah Thomas
TURNING POINT: The Kings led by as many as 10 in the fourth quarter, but couldn't close out the pesky Wolves. With time expiring, Cunningham missed a 26-footer that would have sent the game to overtime.
HOT: Thomas was hot in the first half, scoring 14 points on 6-for-9 shooting and dishing out five assists.
HOT II: Thomas carried the Kings through the first half and Evans picked up the slack in the second, scoring 19 of his 21 after the break.
NOT: The Timberwolves' starting backcourt of Ricky Rubio and Luke Ridnour combined to score 16 points on 5-for-20 shooting.
GOOD MOVE: Cousins got hungry in the third quarter, gobbling up nine of his game-high 14 rebounds in the 12 minutes after the intermission.
BAD MOVE: Pekovic was dominant early, but with the Wolves' perimeter shots clanking, the Kings packed the paint and took away Minnesota's biggest weapon.
NOTABLE: Chase Budinger returned to the court for the first time since tearing his meniscus in his left knee on Nov. 10 against the Chicago Bulls.
NOTABLE II: The Kings finished with zero second-chance points and were outrebounded on the offensive end 17-4.
UP NEXT: For the Wolves, Friday @ Phoenix, Sunday vs. Chicago, Tuesday @ Detroit. For the Kings, Saturday @ Denver, Sunday vs. Philadelphia, Wednesday @ Golden State.