Gay scores 33 in Kings' victory over Wolves
The Sports Xchange
Minnesota 108 Sacramento 111
MINNEAPOLIS -- After Tuesday's loss in Indiana, forward Rudy Gay apologized to his Sacramento Kings teammates.
Gay had scored 12 points -- not enough in a 14-point loss to the Pacers and not enough for the leader of a team he feels can be very good.
"If we're going to be a good team, I have to be more consistent," Gay said. "When we left the hotel tonight, I knew I had to come out here and perform for my team.''
Mission accomplished. Gay scored a season-high 33 points in Sacramento's 111-108 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves Wednesday at Target Center. He made 12-of-19 shots, including all three of the 3-pointers he took. Gay hit a clutch 26-foot trey with 19.5 seconds left to help hold off a Timberwolves team that, somnambulant most of the night, awoke for a late charge. He made all six of his free throws and had six assists.
Despite a final three minutes that Kings coach Michael Malone called "excruciating," the Kings (14-23) emerged with their fourth victory in five games.
Despite 27 points from forward Kevin Love and double-figure scoring from five other Wolves, Minnesota (18-20) lost its second straight game and its third in four games.
"It was a poor game on our part," Wolves coach Rick Adelman said. "It took us three and a half quarters to go out there and challenge them. We aren't going to win that way.''
Center DeMarcus Cousins had 20 points and 11 rebounds for Sacramento. He scored out of a time out with 49 seconds left and hit two free throws with 8.6 seconds left. Guard Isaiah Thomas had 26 points, including nine in the fourth quarter and two on free throws that sealed the game with 4.1 seconds left. Forward Derrick Williams had 16 points in his first game at Target Center since being traded away from Minnesota in late November. Together the Kings shot 54.9 percent to the Wolves' 44.2 and had a 45-34 edge on the boards.
The Kings controlled much of the game after Gay had seven points in a 15-4 Kings run to end the first half that gave them a 58-47 lead entering the third quarter.
That lead was still 10 after three quarters and stood at 11 with 3:18 left when Thomas hit a 3-pointer.
Then things got dicey. Over the next 2:17 the Wolves went on an 8-0 run to pull within 102-99 on guard Alexey Shved's basket with 1:01 left.
Cousins scored out of a time out, but then Love hit a 3-pointer to pull the Wolves within two. Gay's 3-pointer pushed the lead to five, but Love hit another trey with 17.4 seconds left.
The Kings didn't fold, with Cousins and Thomas hitting free throws down the stretch.
"We have to do a better job of closing games out," Malone said. "That will take awhile. We won't do that overnight. We have to improve, and we will, because we'll learn from it.''
The Wolves had six players in double figures, with center Nikola Pekovic, guard Kevin Martin and guard J.J. Barea all scoring 14 points. But those three shot a combined 16-for-40 while doing so. Until the final three minutes, the Wolves did not seem interested.
"They had more energy than we did," Love said. "That's on each and every one of us."
NOTES: Wednesday marked the first time since his late-November trade that F Derrick Williams returned to Target Center, where his NBA career began. Williams, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2011 draft, was sent to the Sacramento Kings for F Luc Mbah a Moute on Nov. 26. It has been an up-and-down story for Williams in Sacramento, especially since the Kings acquired F Rudy Gay, which limited Williams' minutes at small forward. He is averaging 9.5 points and 25 minutes off the bench. Still, he said, it's a better fit. "I think it fits my style more, the offense here," he said of the Kings. "I feel a little more free on the court."' ... After initially balking at the idea of going to the Development League, Wolves rookie F Shabazz Muhammad said his four-game stint with the Iowa Energy -- during which he averaged 24.5 points and 9.8 rebounds per game -- was a plus. "It was a good thing," he said. "It gave me a lot of confidence. I believe I can really help this team out if I get the opportunity."
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