It got interesting at the end, but I left the Target Center feeling anything but encouraged. A late run at the tail end of the fourth quarter, including two Kevin Love three-pointers, left the game appearing closer than it felt while I was watching it.
"We were just trying to take whatever they allowed us to take and we didn't force the issue on anyone," Wolves coach Rick Adelman said following the game. "We have to force the issue. We are so hands-off defensively it almost takes an act of congress for us to go out and foul somebody. You have to go after people in this league, they are too good, and people are too good offensively in this league to allow them to do what they want."
The first half started rocky, and avalanched into ugly as it got into the second quarter. A 15-4 Kings run to end the second quarter was the highlight the half, as Sacramento went into the locker room with a 58-47 lead. The Kings had a mini dunk contest in that half, showing next to no fear as the half went along. Perhaps the highlight of the evening came from Williams:
Williams had a fantastic first half on the offensive end, fishing with 12 points on 5-6 shooting in just 13 minutes. He only had 4 in the second half, but he definitely made his presence felt in his return to the Target Center.
Nothing really changed in the third quarter, with the Wolves cutting the lead by just 1 point. Nothing really picked up for the Wolves in the 4th quarter either, until the final 2 minutes, when an Alexey Shved and-1 and a pair of Love three-pointers got it as close as 109-108 with 4.6 seconds to go. Even with the rally, it was too late to complete the comeback, and the Kings were able to hold on.
The Wolves looked out of sorts for the majority of the game, and frankly, didn't look engaged, especially after the 1st quarter. Only towards the latter stages of the fourth quarter did we see any life from the Wolves, and even then, it wouldn't have gotten so interesting if not for a couple tough threes by Love in the final moments.
Other than Love, who finished with 27 points, 11 boards and 5 assists, nobody really brought it tonight, especially from the starting lineup. Brewer had some breakaway buckets, but struggled mightily in guarding Rudy Gay (Luc Mbah a Moute did not see the floor tonight) throughout. Ricky Rubio struggled with turnovers, finishing with 5 on the night. Pekovic was out of position for most of the evening, and DeMarcus Cousins was able to slow down a guy who has otherwise been stellar over the past few weeks. Martin could not hit, and didn't attempt a three pointer all night.
Shved played well off the bench, but besides him, there wasn't much production from the reserves either.
This game was seen by some as the opener of an easier stretch of games the for Wolves, and this loss simply puts more pressure of the handful of contests coming up. At 18-20, they're 4 games out of the 8th slot in the West. That isn't too much ground to make up, but that isn't the only issue. With Denver and Memphis (who just got Marc Gasol back) hanging around, there are 11 teams vying for 8 playoff spots. More specifically, 5 teams fighting for the 2 final playoff spots. It's doable, but they're making it tough for themselves.
The Wolves are off until Friday. They'll be in Toronto that night to face the Raptors, a game that will start up at 6pm and will be broadcast on FS North.