Kings hold off late Minnesota rally
Minneapolis, MN (SportsNetwork.com) - Rudy Gay racked up 33 points on 12-of-19 shooting and the Sacramento Kings held on for a 111-108 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Target Center.
Isaiah Thomas added 26 points and seven assists in the win, the improving Kings' fourth in five games, while DeMarcus Cousins posted his 12th straight double-double by amassing 20 points and 11 rebounds.
Minnesota, which cut an 11-point deficit down to one with a late 17-7 surge capped by J.J. Barea's three-point play with 4.6 seconds remaining, was paced by Kevin Love's 27 points and 11 rebounds. Barea, Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Martin all netted 14 points in the loss.
"I don't know who we think we are but that's just not going to do it," Minnesota head coach Rick Adelman said of his team's effort.
The Kings never trailed after putting forth a 9-0 second-quarter run that snapped a 43-43 tie, though Minnesota placed the outcome squarely in doubt with a furious charge down the stretch.
Barea, who put up seven points in the final 3-plus minutes, began the Timberwolves' comeback attempt with a layup that cut Sacramento's lead to 102-93. The basket ignited an 8-0 surge that eventually pulled Minnesota within three, and Love then followed a Cousins' bucket with a dead-on 3- pointer with 39.9 seconds to go that made it a 2-point game at 104-102.
Gay and Love traded 3-pointers on their teams' subsequent possessions before Cousins sank two key free throws for a 109-105 edge with 8.6 seconds left.
The Timberwolves kept fighting, though, with Barea going strong to the hoop and hitting a layup while drawing contact from Thomas. He promptly sank the ensuing bonus shot to put the differential at one and Minnesota quickly fouled Thomas with 4.1 seconds on the clock.
Thomas calmly hit both foul shots to put Sacramento up by three, and Barea misfired on a long-distance try at the buzzer that would have forced overtime.
"The turnovers, fouling when we shouldn't be fouling, all those things that we have to improve upon," Sacramento coach Mike Malone said when asked what his team could have done better down the stretch. "We'll learn from it and we'll watch film."
The Kings shot a scorching 65 percent in the second quarter and closed out the half on a 15-4 burst to take a 58-47 advantage into the break. The margin remained 12 points on several occasions during the third period, the last when Cousins banked in a jumper with 1:50 remaining in the frame that made the score 81-69.
Sacramento was up by as many as 14 points in the fourth quarter and owned a 102-91 lead after Thomas drained a three with 3:18 left to play.
Cousins' streak of double-doubles is one shy of a franchise record set by LaSalle Thompson from Dec. 30, 1985 to Jan. 23, 1986 ... Forward Derrick Williams, traded to the Kings by the Timberwolves on Nov. 26, had 16 points on 7-of-11 shooting off the bench in his first meeting with his former club ... Thomas has now poured in 20 or more points in 14 of his 19 starts this season ... Sacramento had lost three straight at the Target Center since its last victory there on Mar. 20, 2011 ... The Kings, who finished with a 54.9 percent field goal percentage, improved to 13-3 this season when outshooting their opponent.
01/16 00:44:42 ET