The NCAA tournament has pulled most of the basketball world’s focus for the past week. In this spirit, let’s examine the various aspects of Sunday’s Kings-Timberwolves game, a seemingly meaningless game between the West’s two worst teams, as we would a major March showdown.
Experience – Minnesota’s starters had a combined six years of college experience, but 18 seasons in the pros.
The Kings countered with 20 professional campaigns among their first five.
Minnesota had but one of the classic “senior leader” types who so impress college commentators, point guard Luke Ridnour. Sacramento balanced out raw rookie DeMarcus Cousins by flanking him in the starting lineup with steadying presences Beno Udrih, Francisco Garcia, Marcus Thornton, and Samuel Dalembert.
(Since Cousins was ejected for shoving Nikola Pekovic and Martell Webster in the third quarter, it’s questionable how much guidance those veterans were able to provide.)
Quality Wins – Sacramento has won at Portland (96-81, 1/24), at the Lakers (100-95, 1/28), and at Orlando (111-105, 2/23).
Minnesota’s best wins came earlier this month, at home against Indiana (101-75, 3/9) and Utah (122-101, 3/11).
Three-Point Shooting – The Kings hit 11-22 (50%), began the game with two NCAA-esque penetrate-and-dishes for open 3s, and even got a momentum-shifting banked-in 40-footer from Marcus Thornton that ended the first half.
The Timberwolves hit a solid 7-17 (41%), but on this night were outgunned.
Inside Game – In the game’s most lopsided stat, the Kings had 47 rebounds to Minnesota’s 27. They attempted 12 more field goals and dominated the paint.
Key Run – Sacramento led 85-75 at the start of the fourth quarter. The Kings then scored the first 17 points of the fourth quarter, including three threes, to put the game out of reach.
In that stretch, Minnesota called two timeouts, missed seven shots – none from closer than 15 feet – and committed four turnovers, three by point guard Jonny Flynn.
Star Players – Samuel Dalembert (26 points, 17 rebounds, 2 blocks) and Thornton (23 points, 8 rebounds, 9 assists) rebounded from their worst games of the year with impressive bounce-back efforts.
Luke Ridnour (22 points, 4 assists, 3-3 3PT) and Darko Milicic (13 points, 6 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 blocks) made honest efforts, but were overmatched by one of Sacramento’s best 1-2 punches of the season.
About the Author
Written by Steven Jones
Portland native, Highland Park resident, middle school teacher/basketball coach.