Despite a charge in the fourth quarter to make this one somewhat interesting, the Kings relentless pace was too much for the Wolves, who finish their road trip 0-5 and fall to 4-9 overall in a 1 to 1 loss in Sacramento.
The Wolves started quickly in this one, opening up with the first seven points of the game and led by as many as 12, but the Kings climbed back in the game late in the first quarter, and took the lead for good in the second. The story was the Kings pace pushing, even after makes. They constantly put pressure on the Wolves defense by racing up the court via the dribble or pass, and looking for shots before the defense could get set.
Ultimately it paid off with 40 fast break points for the Kings—many of them thanks to De’Aaron Fox attacks in transition, Willie Cauley-Stein running the floor, and Buddy Hield spotting up. It was altogether too fast for the Wolves, who struggle in transition at the best of times, and at the end of a five game trip, without two starters (Jeff Teague and Andrew Wiggins,) they just could not keep up.
The Kings blew things open in the third behind a strong quarter from former Wolf Nemanja Bjelica, who hit two 30 footers and scored on a drive to the hoop for eight straight points that extended the Kings lead into double-figures.
JImmy Butler, who was non-existent all night, tried to go into hero-mode again to start the fourth, which seems to be his current tactic, but it didn’t come off this time, and instead the Wolves were able to get back into things behind Karl-Anthony Towns and Derrick Rose.
With three minutes left, they Wolves were within two and Butler headed to the line. He missed both, Kosta Koufos got a dunk at the other end, the Wolves turned the ball over on their next two possessions, the Kings converted both times, and the game was over.
Butler was atrocious most of the night, looking disinterested throughout, and yet he continues to be enabled by Tom Thibodeau. One hopes that this terrible start to the season, which is clearly affecting everyone, and causing a large amount of fan discontent, will eventually prod Glen Taylor into action, but I’m not holding my breath.
Karl-Anthony Towns was the big star for the Wolves tonight, finishing with 39 points and 19 rebounds. Most of his damage, however, was done in the first half, when he had 29. As has often been the case this year, he struggled after halftime, and tonight it was not a lack of opportunities. He lost his touch and the Kings came at him hard, and he had a poor third quarter, along with the rest of the squad, as the the Kings took control. He did revive in the fourth, scoring eight points in the stanza and trying to bring the Wolves back, but ultimately they tired and could not get there.
- Nemanja Bjelica clearly wanted some revenge tonight. He struggled early, but had a big third quarter for the Kings. Finished with 14 and 8.
- Andrew Wiggins was a late scratch due to a sore quad, which he apparently suffered against the Lakers. Josh Okogie got the start in his place.
- The Wolves are now 0-8 on the road this season.
- How empty is the building going to be on Monday night against the Nets?