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Wolves fight hard, fall to Kings, 113-101

The Minnesota Timberwolves were defeated by the Sacramento Kings on Saturday.

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

I don't have internet in my apartment right now. So I'm maneuvering. I move at the end of the month and this is just how things worked out. Sorry for being tardy. Here's your recap.


In the second game played since it was announced Kevin Martin would be sidelined with a fractured wrist for an indefinite period of time, Andrew Wiggins was the only active, opening day starter in the lineup on Saturday against the Sacramento Kings.

Ricky Rubio wore knit-looking-sweater on the sidelines, Martin sat aside Ryan Saunders on the bench and Thaddeus Young remains away from the team a week-or-so removed since his mother passed away. Nikola Pekovic was wearing a splint on his left hand, sitting next to the Wolves other inactive center, Ronny Turiaf.

The Wolves, down to 10 active players because of the aforementioned, unfortunate circumstances, started their 8th different lineup in 12 games this season. Flip Saunders went with Wiggins, Mo Williams, Corey Brewer, Anthony Bennett and Gorgui Dieng while Shabazz Muhammad, Chase Budinger, Robbie Hummel, Zach LaVine and Glenn Robinson III were ready on the bench.

The Kings countered with Darren Collison, Ben McLemore, Rudy Gay, Jason Thompson and Demarcus "Boogie" Cousins. Collison entered the night averaging 17 points and 8 assists over the last four games. Remember when the Kings refused to sign Isaiah Thomas during the offseason, subsequently only to see him pen a deal with the Phoenix Suns?

Perhaps they don't miss Thomas as much as some thought they would.

Mo Williams got teammates involved during the first quarter and tallied six assists in the process. As they did in the 3rd quarter against the San Antonio Spurs on Friday, the Wolves orchestrated plays for Andrew Wiggins, who scored five points on two-of-six shooting during the first frame.

On the defensive end, for the purposes of conserve energy and avoiding foul trouble, the Wolves were in a zone defense. The Kings didn't appear prepared for what they saw. After the 1st quarter, the home club was up, 24-21.

Flip Saunders left Wiggins in when the 2nd quarter started and, by the time Wiggins came out, he had played 18-and-a-half minutes. Shabazz Muhammad entered the game during the 2nd quarter and, as expected, played with lively much-needed energy. He scored six points and grabbed two-offensive rebounds in a little more than eight minutes of playing time.

At halftime, behind 10 points from Gorgui Dieng and 11 by Corey Brewer - with Williams' 10 assists -  the Wolves led by four, 52-48. Moreover, despite the lead, it was obvious that Boogie Cousins was giving them problems and there was little the Wolves could do about it. The Kings center went into the locker room with 15 points, 8 rebounds and 2 assists.

Inexplicably, Ben McLemore scored 13 points during the 3rd quarter - he hit three-of-four from three and was en route to a season-high 22 point performance. The Kings second-unit features former Wolves Ramon Sessions and Derrick Williams, who combined to score nine points during the first three quarters.

After halftime, Saunders continued to call Wiggins' number, and the rookie played the entire 3rd quarter. Albeit shooting one-of-six, Wiggins went to the free throw line eight times and entered the final frame with 18 points. Because of all the injuries, the Wolves are going to depend on Wiggins more than they have, and maybe wanted to, throughout the first few weeks of his career.

Boogie was dominant in the 4th quarter, after the Kings outscored the Wolves 36-25 during the 3rd. Cousins finished with 31 points and 18 rebounds and, after the game, Saunders referred to Cousins as one of the best centers in the league. The Wolves were defeated for the second time in as many nights, this time by the score of 113-101.

Because of circumstances, mostly injuries, Saunders has no choice but to depend on the younger players. This is especially true when it comes to Wiggins, who scored 29 points during Saturday's loss to the Kings - the highest point total any rookie has scored this season.

Moral victories are rarely celebrated in professional sports. But, perhaps begrudgedly, they are always acknowledged. Wiggins, Anthony Bennett, Gorgui Dieng and Zach LaVine scored 56 of the Wolves 101 points on Saturday.

"I was happy with how we played, with who we have," Saunders said during his postgame press conference. Had his group not played well, it would have been easy to be satisfied knowing nobody else was hurt. The Wolves can't afford to lose any more players because of injuries.

Saunders expressed Thaddeus Young will be available for their next game, which is Wednesday, November 26, against the Milwaukee Bucks.