GameDay LIVE Blog: Wolves vs. Kings | March 16, 2014





Final: That's a wrap, folks. The Wolves beat the Kings 104-102 tonight at Target Center thanks to clutch shooting and some trips to the line down the stretch. Love finished with 26 points, 10 rebounds and five assists. Martin had 31 points, and Gorgui Dieng had 12 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks. All five starters scored in double-figures. For the Kings, D-Will led the team with 26 points. Isaiah Thomas has 20. More to come here on Timberwolves.com, so stay tuned. MIN 104, SAC 102

Q4 41.6: D-Will hit both free throws to put the Kings up 1, but Love hit a 3 to put the Wolves back 2. And after Rubio went 1-for-2 from the line, the Wolves have a three-point lead. MIN 98, SAC 95

Q4 1:26: The Wolves are leading by one with 1:26 to play, and after this timeout the D-Will will be heading to the line with an opportunity to take the lead. Before these attempts, he's got 24 points on 8-of-15 shooting and 11 boards. MIN 94, SAC 93

Q4 5:38: Robbie Hummel checked in and hit a couple quick jumpers for the Wolves, which immediately doubled the point production from the Wolves' bench so far tonight. He's staying out there with Barea, Rubio, Cunningham and Love coming out of this timeout. The Wolves and Kings are knotted up, and we've got a critical 2-3 minute stretch coming up. MIN 87, SAC 87

End Q3: The Wolves are taking a three-point lead into the fourth and are getting strong play from their starters. Love has 20 points, eight rebounds and five assist. K-Mart has 22 points, and Gorgui Dieng collected his first career double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds. He also has five blocks. Rubio has nine points, eight assists and five rebounds. The problem is the Wolves have just four bench points, and the reserves are shooting a combined 1-for-9 from the field. Minnesota needs to get more productivity from their reserves in the fourth. MIN 77, SAC 74

Q3 3:48: The Wolves had momentum, but Isaiah Thomas took quite a bit of that back over the last four minutes. He's up to 13 points and has eight this quarter alone. Sacramento just went on a 10-2 run and has this game tied up. MIN 69, SAC 69

Q3 7:28: The Wolves are averaging 3.5 blocks per game this season, which is last in the NBA. But Gorgui Dieng alone has four blocks in 26 minutes tonight, and his latest swat sent Ricky the other way for a layup and 1 opportunity. Rubio's free throw puts the Wolves up 67-59. They've gone on a 14-5 run to start the third. MIN 67, SAC 59

Halftime: The Wolves are trailing by one at the half. They've led by as many as 10 but have let the Kings climb back and take a couple leads here late in the second. Minnesota is getting good minutes from K-Mart, who has 16 points and is 8-of-8 from the free-throw line, and Kevin Love has 13 points on 4-of-6 shooting. He's got five assists and four rebounds. They'll need to get him more shot attempts in the second half. Gorgui Dieng looks like he's getting more comfortable and is able to stay on the court. He's only got one foul, so he's not getting into trouble on that front. D-Will has 16 points off the bench to lead the Kings, but Minnesota is doing a pretty good job keeping others from getting into grooves. Travis Outlaw had a nice stretch in the second quarter and is 3-of-4 from the field off the bench, and Reggie Evans if 4-of-6 with eight points. But Rudy Gay, who is always dangerous and can go off on any night, has just seven points on 3-of-8 shooting. Without Pek, the second chance points are lacking. Sacramento has a 8-2 edge in second chance points. SAC 54, MIN 53

Q2 2:23: Great feed from Ricky Rubio to Gorgui Dieng for the two-handed slam moments ago. That basket put the Wolves up three. Gorgui has played 19 minutes and is 3-of-4 from the field with six points, three rebounds and two blocked shots. He's done a good job of altering shots in the last half quarter, and that's important because while he's good at blocking shots he doesn't always need to do that to be effective. Simply altering shots makes him equally valuable. MIN 50, SAC 47

Q2 6:46: D-Will continues to keep things rolling here in the second. In eight minutes, he's got 15 points on 5-of-7 shooting including a perfect 4-of-4 from the line. He's being incredibly aggressive and forcing the issue, and regardless of whether Mbah a Moute or Brewer are on him he's been able to use his size to bully his way to the basket. The Wolves are trying to get some momentum back right now and they're going with their starting five out of the timeout to try and get it going. SAC 39, MIN 38

End Q1: Derrick Williams is reserving some of his best games for his returns to Target Center. After scoring 16 points on 7-of-11 shooting in his first trip back to the Twin Cities on Jan. 15 (after the Wolves traded him to Sacramento for Luc Richard Mbah a Moute), he already has 10 points on 3-of-3 shooting and three free throws here in three minutes of play in this first quarter. Kings coach Michael Malone said pregame that D-Will gives the Kings a lot of energy when he is aggressive on the court. His struggle is staying aggressive all the time. He's doing it tonight, and he's continuing to get try and force contact on smaller defensive matchups. Meanwhile, the Wolves have 12 points from K-Mart, Love's got nine and Ricky's got five points, four assists and three rebounds. The Kings ended the quarter on a 10-3 run to climb within three. MIN 32, SAC 29

Q1 3:03: Minnesota is starting to push the tempo a bit here in the first quarter and is getting rewarded for it. They're shooting 10-of-15 from the field and are up 10 thanks to K-Mart, Love and Rubio getting to the rim. Martin already has 12 points on 4-of-7 shooting and a perfect 4-of-4 from the line, and Rubio has five points, four assists and three rebounds. Love has eight points, two boards and two assists. MIN 29, SAC 19

Q1 8:43: Nice start for the Wolves right away here against the Kings. They're shooting 5-of-7 from the field and forced a timeout after Corey Brewer threw down a monster dunk in transition moments ago. That followed up a Kevin Martin scores & 1 on the previous possession. Rubio already with five points, two boards and an assist. MIN 13, SAC 6

Starters:

Kings:
PG-Isaiah Thomas, SG-Ben McLemore, SF-Rudy Gay, PF-Reggie Evans, C-Aaron Gray

Wolves: PG-Ricky Rubio, SG-Kevin Martin, SF-Corey Brewer, PF-Kevin Love, C-Gorgui Dieng

PREGAME 5:10 PM: Wolves coach Rick Adelman announced pregame tonight that center Nikola Pekovic will not play tonight against Sacramento. He injured his ankle on Friday night against Charlotte and was limited to 17 minutes in that 105-93 road loss. He missed 13 games due to bursitis in his right ankle during February and March, and without him the Wolves suffer a major blow when coupled with Ronny Turiaf's absence due to his own knee injury.

The Kings announced just minutes ago that center DeMarcus Cousins will also not play tonight. He's got right knee tendinitis and will sit out this game. That means we won't see either half of our Pek vs. Cousins matchup we were looking forward to tonight.

Adelman said Gorgui Dieng will get his first career start tonight against the Kings, although I'll preface that he made that announcement before the Kings made it known Cousins won't play tonight. We'll see if anything changes after the fact. If they do choose to switch the lineup, I'd expect Kevin Love to slide to the 5 and Dante Cunningham to go to the 4 like the team did in Pek's absence in February and March.

The reason Adelman wanted to go with Dieng is he'll need to play a good chunk of minutes anyway, and getting him comfortable early will be beneficial at the center spots. It also allows the Wolves to put a traditional center in there and keep Kevin Love at his power forward spot to start out. Love will likely play at the 5 during points in the game, but starting him at the 4 will take a little wear and tear off his body during the minutes he plays.

It will also likely depend on how many minutes Dieng will be able to play. As a rookie, he's struggled to keep himself out of foul trouble. It does help that Cousins will also not play, as he is one of the most physical centers in the Western Conference.

Dieng has worked hard to try and learn the pace of the NBA game and what it takes to stay on the court and not get into foul trouble throughout his rookie year. Pekovic went through the same struggles during his first season, and he's tried to mentor Dieng along, too.

If the Wolves rotate to play small, look for Adelman to shift guys like Luc Richard Mbah a Moute into the 4 spot as well to supplement Love and Dante Cunningham. It's kind of an all hands on deck scenario tonight.

"Everyone needs to be ready to go," Adelman said. "We need production. When we lose someone like Pek, everyone's got to do a little bit more."

Having gone through a situation without Pekovic last month does give the Wolves a little more idea of how to deal with his absence, but Adelman said it doesn't make it any easier.

"He's too vital for us," Adelman said. "We can't--we become very small. It puts a lot of pressure on us, especially Kevin. ... We need him to be on the floor. It's just one of those things between G and DC, I mean we don't have a lot of options. We just have to adjust as we go."

PREGAME 4:00 PM: Welcome back to Target Center, as the Timberwolves return home after a quick one-game road trip to Charlotte on Friday night to take on Sacramento Kings tonight. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. (note the early start) on Fox Sports North and 830 WCCO-AM.

The Timberwolves and Kings are 1-1 this season with two more contests to play including tonight. This is their final meeting of the year here in the Twin Cities, with Sacramento winning the first matchup 111-108 on Jan. 15. In fact, the visiting team has won three of the past four meetings in this series, so the Wolves do need to keep that in mind and take care of business tonight.

In their first meeting, Rudy Gay had 33 points, Isaiah Thomas had 26 and former Wolves forward Derrick Williams had some LeBron-like moments on the offensive end. The key to facing the Kings is understanding they do have athletes that can take over a game—Gay is the prime example on this squad. When he was on Toronto last year late in the season, he did the same thing when he came through town. It will be interesting to see how Corey Brewer matches up with Gay on the defensive end tonight.

Here are a few notes as we get set for tonight’s game. We’ll have the coaches pregame interviews shortly.

  • The Wolves lead the series 48-46 and are 30-17 at home. The teams have split the two meetings this season with the Kings winning 111-108 at Target Center on Jan. 15 and the Wolves getting a 108-97 win at Sleep Train Arena on March 1.

  • Wolves Notes

  • The Wolves are currently 10th in the Western Conference, 5.0 games behind Phoenix and 6.0 games behind Memphis and Dallas.

  • The Wolves have tallied 30+ points in the first quarter a league-leading 28 times. Minnesota is 21-7 when scoring 30+ in the first quarter, 11-2 at home.

  • Kevin Love has made at least two 3-pointers in the last 12 games -- the longest active streak in the NBA and two short of the NBA high this season (Jennings, 14). Love is shooting 43.2% (41-for-85) from long distance over this stretch.

  • Love currently leads the NBA in double-doubles (53), 20/10 games (42) and 30/10 games (18). He ranks 4th in the league in scoring (26.4 ppg), 2nd in rebounding (13.0 rpg) and 2nd in free throws made (419). Love is also averaging a career-high 4.2 assists -- the last player to average 25+ points, 13+ rebounds and 4+ assists over a full season was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1975-76.

  • Ricky Rubio ranks 2nd in the NBA in steals (2.42 spg) and 5th in assists (8.5 apg). He needs one more game with 3+ steals to match Michael Williams (29 in 1992-93) for the most such games in a season by a Wolves player.

  • Rubio and Corey Brewer have combined for 263 steals -- the most of any duo in the NBA this season (Thaddeus Young/Michael Carter-Williams are 2nd with 237).

  • Kevin Martin is averaging 21.3 points this month (7 games) including shooting 93.8% (45-for-48) from the free throw line. He ranks 3rd in the NBA in free throw percentage at 88.9%. Martin needs to make one three-pointer for 1,000 in his career.

  • Kings Notes

  • With a 23-43 record, Sacramento is 13th in the Western Conference and would be eliminated from playoff contention with a loss tonight. Tonight's game is the last game of a seven-game road trip for the Kings (2-4). Sacramento is 7-8 in the second game of back-to-back games this season.

  • Sacramento is the only team in the NBA with three players averaging 20 or more points - DeMarcus Cousins (22.2 ppg), Isaiah Thomas (20.4) and Rudy Gay (20.2). All three are ranked in the Top 20 in the NBA in scoring.

  • DeMarcus Cousins leads the Kings in scoring (22.2 ppg), rebounding (11.7 rpg) and double-doubles (41). Cousins has recorded double-doubles in 7 of the last 8 games, averaging 21.8 points, on 50.8% (64-for-126) shooting, and 13.3 rebounds over this stretch.

  • Isaiah Thomas needs one assist for 1,000 in his career. He has attempted 10+ free throws in 13 games this season, including the last two games. Thomas ranks 10th in the NBA (1st among point guards) in free throw attempts with 375.



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