Kings look to spoil depleted Timberwolves' home opener

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Kings look to spoil depleted Timberwolves' home opener

Programming note: Kings-Timberwolces coverage begins today at 5 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet California (Territorial restrictions apply)!

The Minnesota Timberwolves fell apart last season after Ricky Rubio went down with an injury. How they'll fare with both him and star Kevin Love sidelined to begin the 2012-13 campaign remains to be seen.Brandon Roy and a host of newcomers make their team debuts Friday night when Minnesota hosts the Sacramento Kings, who will look to clean up their play after dropping their opener.The Timberwolves were 21-19 and tied for the Western Conference's final playoff spot heading into their March 9 game against the Los Angeles Lakers before Rubio tore his left ACL in the final seconds of a 105-102 loss.Minnesota proceeded to drop 20 of its last 25 to finish 26-40, its seventh consecutive losing season. Rubio won't be back until at least mid-December, and the team received more bad news when Love broke his hand doing an in-home workout Oct. 17.Love finished fourth in the NBA with 26.0 points per game while placing second with an average of 13.3 rebounds last season, but he'll miss at least the first month."It is a big hole in our lineup, but we have guys that are going to commit to do their job, and we have to find a way to win," coach Rick Adelman said. "That's just the way it is. A lot of teams are facing the same thing. We are no different."Love said he still plans to be around the Timberwolves while he rehabs."I'm going to stay in shape as much as I can, and I'm just going to continue to stay with the team and keep being a leader," he said.Roy is no stranger to battling through injuries after the three-time All-Star for Portland was forced to retire prior to last season due to multiple knee problems.Minnesota, though, decided to take a chance when Roy began his comeback, signing him to a two-year, 10.4 million deal. The Timberwolves also added former Utah standout Andrei Kirilenko, Chase Budinger, Dante Cunningham and Lou Amundson in the offseason."You don't ever have to apologize for an injury. He didn't want this," Roy said of Love. "It's just our job to do the best we can early in the year and try to stay above float, because you know when we get him back we've got a really good team."Sacramento coach Keith Smart believes he has a solid squad as well, though it committed 21 turnovers in a 93-87 loss at Chicago on Wednesday. Tyreke Evans scored a team-high 21 points while Marcus Thornton added 15 off the bench and DeMarcus Cousins finished with 14."I'm still proud of our guys because I thought they withstood a lot of things that happened on the floor," Smart said. "We gave up 25 points off turnovers. If we cut that in half, we have a good opportunity to win the game."If we just continue to duplicate what we did here, we can be a team that has a lot of success this year."The Kings, though, will need to cut down on miscues going forward after committing nearly seven more turnovers than last year's 14.4 average."Unacceptable," Thornton said. "I know it was our first game, but we can't use that as an excuse."Evans scored 24 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in a 116-108 home win over Minnesota on April 2 to earn a split in the four-game season series.

Young Kings' inexperience rears ugly head in loss to Jazz

Young Kings' inexperience rears ugly head in loss to Jazz

SACRAMENTO -- The Sacramento Kings showed their age Wednesday night at Golden 1 Center. They couldn’t buy a basket early. They could do no wrong in the second and third quarters. And when the chips were down, they couldn’t stop a charging Utah Jazz team from pulling away for the 112-82 blowout.

Utah led by as many as 20 in the first quarter and it looked like it was going to be a long night. The Kings shot just 31.6 percent in the game’s first 12 minutes and they allowed the Jazz to knock down 5-of-11 3-pointers early.

“We started off slow and in a hole and tried to come back,” Willie Cauley-Stein said.

The Jazz pushed the lead to 24 in the opening minutes of the second quarter and then Ben McLemore happened. The fourth-year guard went off for 17 points on 7-of-8 shooting in the second as the Kings cut Utah’s lead to just seven at the intermission.

“It’s nice to see him back in there and getting rhythm and feeling good about himself,” Dave Joerger said of McLemore. “He is able at his size to get off of people that are holding. With his athleticism, he can be an effective cutter and he can be an effective pin down player.”

The 24-year-old wing finished the night with 22 points on 9-of-12 shooting, but he was one of just three Kings players to notch double-figure scoring as the ball movement dried up for long stretches.

Utah made adjustments in the second half to slow McLemore and the Kings did a poor job of responding. They over dribbled the ball, leading to just 14 assists on the night.

The Jazz on the other hand looked like a finely oiled machine. With big man Rudy Gobert anchoring the post, they made cuts at the rim and found open shooters all around the perimeter.  

“They hit shots, a lot of shots, a lot of threes,” Willie Cauley-Stein said. “That breaks the game wide open when you’re hitting threes and a lot of stuff is going in.”

Sharpshooter Rodney Hood dropped in 5-of-5 from long range, scoring 18 points in just 24 minutes of play. Gordon Hayward knocked down 3-of-5 from deep for a team-high 20 points. Overall, Utah outscored the Kings 39-6 from 3-point range.

Despite the rough start and the barrage of 3-point makes by the Jazz, Sacramento cut Utah’s lead to just two midway through the third quarter. And then the playoff bound Jazz dropped a 52-24 run on Sacramento to finish the night off.

Joerger allowed his core of young players plenty of time on the floor. Skal Labissiere played a team-high 33 minutes in the loss, coming away with nine points and seven rebounds.  

“I’m definitely learning a lot,” Labissiere said. “It’s the best way to learn to be out there against guys like that. Whenever I’m out there, I’m always learning something. I just try to give my best.”

Rookie Georgios Papagiannis added eight points and three rebounds in 20 minutes and Buddy Hield struggled for one of the few times in a Kings uniform, scoring just two points on 1-for-7 shooting.

It’s a process. With the playoff chatter over and done with, the Kings are bound to have a few more night’s like this in the final seven games of the season as they transition to a full youth movement.

 

Instant Replay: Kings fight back, but succumb to Jazz

Instant Replay: Kings fight back, but succumb to Jazz

BOX SCORE

SACRAMENTO -- After winning two straight, the Sacramento Kings came out flat and the Utah Jazz made them pay. The Jazz quieted the crowd early, pushing their lead to 24 points in the second quarter, but the Kings bounced back to make it a game. In the end, Utah had too much firepower, coming away with the 112-82 victory.

All-Star Gordon Hayward used his height advantage at the wing to punish the Kings. Hayward scored 20 points on 8-for-14 shooting and added seven rebounds in the win.

Rudy Gobert pounded the Kings in the paint, finishing the night with 16 points and 15 rebounds.  

Rodney Hood knocked down 5-for-5 from behind the arc on his way to 17 points. Shelvin Mack shot 5-of-8 from the field for 14 points and Joe Ingles finished with 12 points and five assists off Quin Snyder’s bench.

There is no quit in Ben McLemore. The fourth-year guard has an uncertain in Sacramento after this season, so he made sure to put on a show for anyone who might be interested in his services. McLemore dropped in 17 of his 22 points in a wild first half run that got Sacramento back into the game.

Darren Collison was one of the few Kings to find success early as the Jazz built their big lead. The veteran point  guard finished the night with 12 points and one assist.

Willie Cauley-Stein didn’t back down from Gobert. The second-year 7-footer managed to score seven points and grab a team-high eight rebounds in the loss.

Ty Lawson came off Dave Joerger’s bench to score 11 points and dish out three assists. Skal Labissiere shook of a slow start to score nine points and grab seven rebounds, while rookie Georgios Papagiannis chipped in eight points.

STANDOUT PERFORMER:
McLemore caught fire. He singlehandedly stopped the Kings from getting blown out in the first half with his 7-of-8 shooting performance before the intermission.

TURNING POINT:
Sacramento managed to make it a game in the third quarter, clawing all the way back to within one point. The Jazz responded to take a 78-67 lead into the fourth and then put the Kings away.

INJURY UPDATE:
Garrett Temple and Kosta Koufos sat for scheduled rest. Arron Afflalo missed the game due to a personal matter. Rookie Malachi Richardson is officially out for the season with a right hamstring thickness tear. Rudy Gay is out for the year with a torn left Achilles.

WHAT'S NEXT:
The Kings travel to New Orleans where they’ll face DeMarcus Cousins and the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday evening. They’ll fly to Minnesota following the game to play the Timberwolves as part of a back-to-back.