Wolves Dropped In Season Opener
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Kings (1-0) 117 Wolves (0-1) 116 - Target Center
How it happened:
In a game that featured 17 lead changes, Sacramento edged out Minnesota 117-116 in the season opener on Wednesday night. Both teams exchanged big runs but the Kings' 47 trips to the charity stripe helped them secure the road victory. After Carl Landry connected on a free throw to give Sacramento a 109-10 lead with 2:55 remaining, Luke Ridnour quickly answered by sinking a long bomb. Unfortunately, Minnesota could not stop the Kings from scoring down the stretch and timely free throws kept the Wolves out of reach. Minnesota suffered the loss despite a valiant defensive effort out of Anthony Tolliver (four blocked shots). Michael Beasley was aggressive on the offensive side of the floor with 9 of his 17 points in the second half.
Francisco Garcia finished with 22 points and Carl Landry grabbed 11 boards on the night. Sacramento snagged the victory without its best player Tyreke Evans, who was suspended one game for a reckless driving violation.
Ridnour kept the Wolves afloat through a couple dry spells during this contest. Several times, Ridnour drilled pull-up jumpers to stop a Sacramento run or give his squad an offensive spark. The Minnesota point guard was extremely efficient, hitting 8-for-13 from the floor and dishing out six assists in the loss.
Wes Johnson admitted to feeling a strong sense of anticipation leading up to his NBA debut. In 18 minutes of action, he scored 13 points on 5-of-10 shooting from the floor and seemed to calm down as the game progressed. Johnson's athletic ability is eye-popping; however, his greatest asset is the ability to drain mid-range jumpers. Expect the former Syracuse standout to improve with game experience and increased minutes after his sore hamstring full heals. Across the court, the No. 5 overall pick DeMarcus Cousins finished with 14 points and eight rebounds.
Highlight to Remember:
Johnson introduced himself to the NBA in dramatic fashion. Early in the second quarter, Kings forward Darnell Jackson mishandled the basketball, which allowed Sebastian Telfair to snatch the loose ball. With open pace on the horizon, Telfiar quickly moved up the floor and dropped a no-look pass to Johnson. Luther Head attempted to step in front of Johnson but the No. 4 overall pick quickly elevated for a one-handed poster dunk. The home crowd erupted and Johnson completed the old fashioned three-point play to put Minnesota on top 35-34.
The Numbers Game:
The Wolves were successful in the open floor by scoring 35 fastbreak points. Last season, Minnesota only averaged 15.1. Head coach Kurt Rambis was pleased with the pace of play but would have liked his team to make more intelligent decisions when running this style of offense.
Minnesota will practice on Thursday afternoon at the Life Time Training Center before hosting the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday night. Tipoff set for 7 PM at the Target Center.
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