For much of the night, it felt like the Wolves should be blowing out the undermanned Kings, but the Kings hung around thanks to some strong work on the offensive glass and a few stretches of sloppy play by the Wolves. Late in the third quarter, it was a one point game, but threes by Tyus Jones and Nemanja Bjelica pushed the Wolves lead out to seven, and they continued their Bjelica-centric run into the fourth quarter, going up by double-digits and they were able to cruise home from there.
The key offensively for the Wolves in this one was three point shooting. They went 11-21 for the game, led by Zach LaVine in the first half (when he went 4-6 from three and scored all 18 of his points), and Bjelica in the 2nd, (4-5 from deep for the game and a career high 18 points). Other than the deep shooting, and some periodic transition basketball, it was frankly a rather blah performance by the Wolves, who struggled from the free throw line (22-31), turned the ball over 16 times (led by Ricky Rubio's five), and looked a bit off kilter at times.
Still, it was enough tonight, as the Kings just couldn't keep up. Missing several vital players, they were forced to use some difficult combinations and particularly lacked ball handling beyond Darren Collison. The result was 20 turnovers and 42% shooting.
As mentioned, it was a career high for Bjelica, who is looking much more like the player we hoped we were getting over the last couple of weeks. Tonight he was shooting the ball lights out, but it's been a little bit of everything from the Serbian recently--he obviously has renewed confidence in his game and is getting used to the NBA. He makes smart plays. Tonight I noticed him tipping a rebound he couldn't get out to a teammate, as well as poking a ball away to break up a Kings transition opportunity.
Also worthy of note was Gorgui Dieng, who had one of his more effective games in a while. He went for 18 and 13, and looked active and involved most of the night. Not nearly as much hesitation to pull the trigger on his jump shot as we've often seen. He also had a spectacular coast-to-coast play that finished with an emphatic dunk, something we haven't seen before.
The win gives the Wolves a four game season sweep over the Kings, and is their 27th win of the year.
It's late, the season is almost over, and it was a Wolves-Kings game. Let's go to some bullets:
- Zach LaVine started the game hot, going 6-8 from the field in the first half. He was quiet in the second (and, along with Rubio, did not play the fourth quarter). I liked the shot selection--everything was either a three or in transition at the rim.
- Rubio had his moments, but frankly looked tired to me. He didn't attempt a field goal, and had a couple of surprising turnovers that seemed the product of some mental fatigue. Not his best outing.
- Apparently FSN zoomed in on Boss10 in the crowd and Jim Pete gave him a shout. Somehow I missed this, the best moment of the night. Thanks for repping Boss.
- Up next is Portland on Saturday night.