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Kings 95, Wolves 99: Wiggins Shines Bright Like a Diamond

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The Wolves finally closed out a tight game at Target Center behind Andrew Wiggins' 32 points, 10 rebounds, and six assists, beating Sacramento 99-95.

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

MINNEAPOLISAndrew Wiggins put the Wolves on his back, carrying them to victory in one of the most complete games of his NBA career.

Tonight, he shined bright like a diamond, finishing with 32 points, 10 rebounds, and six assists to lift the Wolves over the Sacramento Kings, 99-95.

The harshest critics of Wiggins will be quick to point out his lack of rebounds and assists, how he can disappear for long stretches, and at times limits himself to playing the role of high-usage scorer and tough isolation defender. Any team would be crazy not to want that, but when talking about real tangible superstars there needs to consistent numbers across the board, and so the criticism is certainly fair when talking about a player many have already crowned as the next superstar NBA wing.

"He was making shots and getting to the basket," Sam Mitchell said. "We know he can score when he gets going, but the 10 rebounds and six assists, we needed them all. He got some big rebounds, he made some great passes to some open guys.

"For the most part, they made some shots, but it seems like they just scored off our missed shots and turnovers," Mitchell continued. "When we could get them in the half-court defense, seems like we were pretty good."

These are the games that need to come more frequently as Wiggins walks the often uneven path to stardom. This was his first double-double of the season, but most notably he became the youngest Wolves player to ever record a 30 point, 10 rebound, five assist game with tonight's performance. He's only the seventh player in club history to post such a stat line (Garnett 37*, Love 13, Gugliotta 4, Corbin 3, Davis 1, Jefferson 1).

*In bold because... holy cow that number is insane.

Moreover, Wiggins (20 years, 298 days) is now the youngest player to record a 30/10/5 since Tobias Harris (20 years, 269 days) on Apr. 10, 2013. In the last 15 seasons, only four players age 20 or younger have recorded such games (LeBron James [12x], Kevin Durant [3x], Harris and Wiggins).

It's become rather annoying how often the Wolves have blown games in the fourth quarter this season, but tonight they found a way to win at Target Center fueled by Wiggins' all-around performance.

DeMarcus Cousins finished with 24 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, four steals, and one block. Watching him and Karl-Anthony Towns, 15 points and 8 rebounds, go head-to-head was a delicious basketball treat to consume throughout the night. The two were extremely physical with one another, leading to foul trouble for Towns (5) and limiting him to only 24 minutes, but overall the rookie gave one the league's elite players a good run for his money.

Towns jumped on Cousins early in the game to give the Wolves energy in the first quarter when he went to work in unison with Wiggins and Rubio (12 points, seven rebounds, and eight assists). They played with excellent tempo in the opening quarter, something Mitchell has voiced concern about over the past week, and that gave them confidence early in the contest.

"It was just no energy," King coach George Karl said. "No focus on anything, on preparation, on whatever pro reaction to Wiggins, pro reaction to Towns. We had to be punched before we reacted. I don't know if we're good enough to do that on the road."

Shabazz Muhammad scored 16 points and grabbed seven rebounds in 27 minutes off the bench. He was easily the X-Factor tonight. Two different times he attacked the glass with absolute authority to make the Kings pay for not boxing him out. This was the Muhammad many Wolves fans envisioned at the start of the season, a pivotal third year in Minnesota.

Mitchell deserves credit for pressing a lot of the right buttons tonight with his lineup combinations, but Wiggins was the catalyst as the Wolves four-game losing streak (and losers of eight of their last nine) finally comes to an end. Tonight, Wiggins put on for Minneapolis. This city is his for the taking – along with Towns – and tonight he took it.

"I've got to look to do more," Wiggins said in his typical quiet, unassuming demeanor after the game. "I've been scoring the ball well this year, but I've got to help my team rebound and assist."

Notes/Quotes

  • Shabazz Muhammad scored 16 points (12 in the second quarter alone) on 7-of-13 shooting (2-of-4 from three-point range) off the bench tonight, his eighth double-digit scoring effort of the season. Muhammad’s 16 points matches a season-high (3x). "I think we definitely came out with a sense of urgency," Muhammad said in the locker room after the game. "Coach (pregame) was telling us we've got to take care of home and that's something we've really been trying to do. I think we started with that really good edge from the get-go and everybody played well and we had a lot of energy ... I definitely thought I helped, especially on my offensive and defensive rebounds. He continued: "My shot was really feeling good today and that's something I've got to come off the bench and bring energy every night."
  • Gorgui Dieng matched a season high with 11 rebounds tonight, his fourth double-digit rebounding performance of the season.
  • Minnesota outrebounded Sacramento by 19, the largest rebounding advantage of the season and best perhaps the best effort on the glass since outrebounding the Lakers by 23 on Mar. 28, 2014. Towns on the Wolves' rebounding: "We did a great job tonight boxing out. I think that's what led to us crashing the boards very well. We made sure we did a great job boxing out [DeMarcus] Cousins."
  • Zach LaVine had his worst game in recent memory. His shot wasn't falling (4-11) and there were some sloppy turnovers (four total) by him tonight. Mitchell also pulled Nemanja Bjelica after four rough minutes to start his night and never returned to the game as Mitchell opted to play small-ball with Muhammad at the four, often matched up against Gay. The move worked, though the negative side to that is the slump continues for Bjelica, who doesn't look the savvy player we saw earlier in the season.
  • Rajon Rondo finished with 11 points and 13 assists tonight, his 15th game with double-digit assists and fifth consecutive.