Kings stumble, fall to Love-less Minnesota 86-84

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Kings stumble, fall to Love-less Minnesota 86-84

BOX SCORE
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The way that DeMarcus Cousins has been playing lately, the Minnesota Timberwolves were looking like fools for passing on him in favor of Wes Johnson last year.The way Nikola Pekovic is emerging as a force in the middle is definitely softening that blow.Pekovic had 23 points and 10 rebounds, and Michael Beasley added 17 points and 14 boards to lead the Minnesota Timberwolves to an 86-84 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday night in their first game without the suspended Kevin Love.Ricky Rubio had 14 assists and five steals and Derrick Williams scored seven of his 14 points in the final four minutes to give the Timberwolves their third straight win.But it was Pekovic on both ends - whirling to the rim for thunderous dunks on offense and beating up Cousins on defense - that was the key to the Wolves (13-12) equaling their best start since 2005-06."He's the reason why we won," said rookie Derrick Williams, who had eight rebounds and three blocks in the start for Love.Pekovic held Cousins, who had 49 points and 39 rebounds in the previous two games, to 10 points on 3-for-13 shooting and 11 rebounds. The second-year man from Montenegro drew two fouls on Cousins in the first four minutes, and the volatile Cousins seemed flustered for the rest of the game."He is a man down there," Kings coach Keith Smart said of Pekovic. "He plays in the trenches where you have to play with a physical game and that young man has been playing well for over a week and a half now."He had 27 points and 11 rebounds in a win over New Jersey on Friday and provided huge offensive punch on Tuesday night when the rest of his team missed 13 of 16 shots in the third quarter.He made all six of his shots, three of them coming on dunks. One came on a between-the-legs feed from Rubio and another on a pretty spin to the baseline past Cousins.He also lowered his shoulder and ran right over Cousins for a layup, and picked Jason Thompson at halfcourt and finished the play with a nifty finger roll to bring the crowd to its feet."It's fun to watch him play," coach Rick Adelman said.Pekovic's play was just enough to hold off Jimmer Fredette and the Kings, who had won three in a row coming in. Fredette scored all 13 of his points in the final period. But Tyreke Evans and Cousins combined to shoot just 8 for 26.The Kings had a frenetic shot to win their fourth straight game in the final seconds, but Donte Greene's 3-pointer from the corner missed at the buzzer."It would have been a perfect, happy ending to our comeback for that to go in," Greene said. "But it didn't fall."Evans finished with 11 points on 5-of-13 shooting, while Thornton scored 21 of his 22 points in the first three quarters.The Kings trailed 69-60 to start the fourth, and Smart left his starting backcourt of Thornton and Evans on the bench and put his trust in Fredette.It's been a difficult rookie season for the heralded 10th overall pick out of BYU. He was benched for two straight games last week and played just 10 minutes in the win over New Orleans on Monday.But after clanking his first two attempts of the game Tuesday night, Fredette found his range.He buried three 3-pointers, scored off a steal and fed Greene for a dunk that got Sacramento back in it."I was just playing," Fredette said. "I knew I was shooting the ball well. We were coming back into the game, more importantly."Greene's 3-pointer tied it at 82 with 1:09 to go, but Williams came back with a big 3-pointer in the corner to give the Wolves just enough to win without their All-Star.Love was suspended Monday for stepping on Rockets forward Luis Scola last Saturday."I think it builds character and it builds a winning attitude," Beasley said. "Especially go up over .500, that's real important for us."Notes: Love also will sit out Wednesday night's game at Memphis. ... Cousins picked up two fouls in the first four minutes and his fourth with 2:26 to go in the third. ... The Kings turned it over 19 times and shot 38 percent. ... Timberwolves C Darko Milicic missed the game with a sprained right ankle suffered in practice Monday.

Rudy Gay 'ahead of schedule' in recovery from ruptured Achillies

Rudy Gay 'ahead of schedule' in recovery from ruptured Achillies

Rudy Gay has been MIA since leaving the locker room on crutches following the Kings loss to the Indiana Pacers on Jan. 18. He’s posted a few instagram videos of his recovery from a devastating left Achilles rupture, but until Friday night in Oakland, he had been away from the team.

“I’m out of the boot, second stage of my rehab, ahead of schedule and feeling good,” the 30-year-old wing told CSN California’s Kayte Christensen.

According to Gay, he is able to due weight bearing exercises, including some light squats. The 11-year NBA vet is still a ways away from returning to the court, but if he’s ahead of schedule, that means he might be ready for training camp come late September.

It’s not the same group he left behind. DeMarcus Cousins is gone, as is Matt Barnes and Omri Casspi. If he were still playing, Gay would likely be sitting out games for planned rest like most of the Kings’ veterans, but he doesn’t have that luxury.

Gay is entering the final year of his contract in Sacramento. He is due $14.3 million next season, but he has a player option and can become an unrestricted free agent if he so chooses. His recovery will likely dictate whether he opts in to his contract or whether he looks for a long-term deal either with the Kings or elsewhere.

Before the injury, Gay was the Kings’ second leading scorer, posting 18.7 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.7 assists in 33.8 minutes per night.

 

With weight off his shoulders, Lawson returns to form vs Warriors

With weight off his shoulders, Lawson returns to form vs Warriors

With legal issues hanging over his head, veteran point guard Ty Lawson hasn’t been himself over the Kings’ last eight games. He sat out Wednesday night’s loss to the Bucks and he appeared in a Denver courtroom on Thursday to discuss possible probation violations.

Lawson’s attorney disputed the claims against his client and was granted a six week stay in the case. Lawson will appear back in court on May 4, roughly three weeks after the end of the 2016-17 season.

Starting for the resting Darren Collison, Lawson went off against the Warriors Friday night, scoring 18 of his 20 points in the first half. He shot an impressive 8-of-9 from the field in just 24 minutes of action as he broke down Golden State’s defense.

“Honestly, I think Ty’s had a weight on his shoulders for the last four weeks or so and he just hasn’t been himself,” Joerger said after the 114-100 loss. “I think he looked much more relieved today, he smiled and he was the Ty that we know that he is still.”

Lawson, 29, signed a one-year deal with the Kings in late August and is an unrestricted free agent come July 1.