Wolves Hold off Kings, 104-102
Every game is very important for a Wolves team that has been a bit sporadic all season long. The playoff window isn’t that big, but at least for the Wolves; it didn’t get any smaller after they defeated the Kings 104-102 on Sunday night at the Target Center.
The Wolves announced before the game that big man Nikola Pekovic would be out due to a sore ankle. No Pek? No problem, as rookie Gorgui Dieng filled in fantastically, finishing with his first career double-double.
Wolves vs. Kings
“Yeah, I was really excited going into this game,” Dieng said. “It was my first time I get (big) minutes.”
It looked like it was going to be a blowout early on. The Wolves had a 29-19 lead early in the first, but after a Mike Malone timeout, former Minnesota forward Derrick Williams led a 10-3 run to put the deficit at 32-29. Kevin Martin, who scored 26 points in his last game against the Kings, led Minnesota with 12 points. Kevin Love had nine and the Wolves shot 52.4 percent from the field. Derrick Williams led the Kings with 10 points.
That run continued in the second quarter as the Kings outscored Minnesota 25-21 in the second period. At the break, the Kings were shooting 53.7 percent compared to Minnesota’s mark of 46.2. Martin led the Wolves with 16 points, eight coming from the free-throw line (this would be a theme for the night). Kevin added 13. Williams led the Kings with 16.
Minnesota started the third quarter on a 9-2 run, but Sacramento fought back and trailed just 77-74 at the end of the third quarter.
Before the fourth quarter, the bench had struggled to get anything going. Adelman then threw in Robbie Hummel, who hadn’t played in the game. Hummel scored four points in two minutes and gave the team the boost it needed.
“He’s another kid that just, he works every day and he’s always ready,” said Wolves coach Rick Adelman. “… The way we were struggling again off the bench, I just felt let’s put him in there because he’s definitely a threat to make shots.”
The fourth quarter got interesting. It looked like Minnesota had things wrapped up, leading 100-95 with 16.7 seconds left. Isaiah Thomas had other plans as he hit two 3-pointer in 10 seconds. The only thing that kept the Wolves ahead were four free-throws from the sharpshooting Martin in the final 12.1 seconds.
“If they want to foul him at the end of the game, I’m all for that,” Adelman joked after the game.
Martin led all scorers with 31 points, 14 coming from the free-throw line. Love added 26 points, 10 boards and five assists. Ricky Rubio and Dieng scored 12 points each, while Dieng also hauled in 11 rebounds.
Thomas led Sacramento with 27 points. Williams finished with 26 points and 11 boards, while Rudy Gay added 14.
The Wolves are now 32-31 overall.
Leader of the Pack: Gorgui Dieng
Going into the game, it looked like the center position would be lacking with both Pekovic and DeMarcus Cousins out because of injuries. Rookie Gorgui Dieng made sure that wasn’t the case as he finished with his first career double-double with 12 points and 11 boards. He also added a career-high five blocks.
“G did a great job,” Adelman said. “He came in and double-double and as the game went on he got more and more comfortable.”
Don’t Blink Highlight of the Night
With 8:43 left in the first quarter, Rubio hit a streaking Brewer with a no-look pass for an easy dunk to give the Wolves a 13-6 lead. There weren’t in Sacramento players in the area, so you might say that the no-look pass wasn’t needed. Ricky Rubio does what he wants.
Deal with it.
The Numbers Game
Wolves 104, Kings 102
[swf file="https://i.cdn.turner.com/dr/nba/teamsites-nbateams/release/timberwolves/..." player="onepixelout"]
“Just showed that coming into this league I was ready. I was prepared that if I get minutes or not I would just going to keep working.” – Wolves rookie Gorgui Dieng who had the best game of his career in his first start.
The Wolves hit the road on Wednesday to play Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks at 7:30 p.m. The game will air on Fox Sports North and WCCO 830-AM. Minnesota stays in Texas the next night, as the Wolves take on the Houston Rockets on Thursday at 7:00 p.m. The game will also air on Fox Sports North and WCCO 830-AM.