Love is all T-Wolves need to top Kings, 99-86

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Love is all T-Wolves need to top Kings, 99-86

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MINNEAPOLIS -- Rick Adelman knows his smallish backcourt is going to give up plenty of size and strength on most nights.The Minnesota Timberwolves coach also knows that Ricky Rubio and Luke Ridnour will never give in either, and their hard-nosed play against the bigger Sacramento Kings made all the difference on Monday night.Kevin Love had 33 points and 11 rebounds and Ridnour added 25 points and nine assists to lead the Timberwolves to a 99-86 victory over the Kings.Tyreke Evans has 2 inches and 40 pounds on Rubio, and Marcus Thornton has 3 inches and 30 pounds on Ridnour, but the bigger Kings were held to 21 points on 7-for-23 shooting.Score one for the little guys."They can keep their guy in front of them," Adelman said. "They pretty much follow what we talk about."Wayne Ellington, another undersized shooting guard, scored 15 points off the bench for Minnesota, a significant contribution for a backcourt that was missing J.J. Barea for the third straight game because of a sprained left ankle.Evans had nine points, 10 assists, eight rebounds and five turnovers and shot just 3 of 11 from the field as the Kings lost for the fifth time in six games.Jason Thompson and Thornton led the Kings with 12 points each. DeMarcus Cousins was hampered by foul trouble yet again, limited to 10 points in 25 minutes."We've got to grow up," Kings coach Keith Smart said. "Our team has to grow up fast. ... I've got the simplest offense you can run. You just move it to a spot and move it to the next spot. But for whatever reason we're trying to make the play ourselves with the defense set, looking at the basketball."Evans' strategy was particularly curious given his size advantage. Too often he settled for perimeter jumpers and only rarely took it to the basket to try to get easy buckets."Once we got down, we just tried to take shots we don't usually take," Evans said. "We've got to find a better way to swing the ball a few times and take better shots."Rubio had nine points, eight assists and eight rebounds.Love has scored 97 points over the last three games, with a Jan. 25 deadline to extend his contract getting closer and closer. He is the first player since Hakeem Olajuwon in 1992 to start the season with 13 straight double-doubles and has topped 30 points in three straight games for the first time in his career.Rubio has received most of the attention and headlines this season, and rightfully so. His flashy, no-look passes and dynamic play in the open court have electrified a dormant franchise and put more fans in the seats at Target Center than at any time in recent memory.Through it all, Ridnour has been the understated motor that just keeps plugging along. He got the Wolves off to a good start with 10 points, three assists and two rebounds in the first quarter and even blocked a shot to set a tone as Minnesota took a 28-22 lead.Ridnour has been moved from the point to off guard to make room for Rubio in the starting lineup, and he has blossomed in the role despite being undersized."I just try to make it as hard as I can for them," Ridnour said of defending bigger guards. "Really just on the offensive end, make them work, too. They're not used to guarding little guys."One game after scoring just 60 points and getting blown out by 39 in a loss to Dallas, the Kings could have checked out again in the final game of a five-game road trip. But Sacramento's ailing defense held Minnesota to 14 points in the second quarter, and the bench thoroughly outplayed the Timberwolves' reserves to close the half on a 16-4 run.Ridnour hit two 3-pointers and assisted on Love's dunk in the final 3 minutes to help the Wolves put the game away."He shoots the ball very well," Rubio said of Ridnour. "I never see him missing a jump shot. I don't know (what) his field goal percentage is, but it should be more than 70 percent or something like that all season."The Wolves blew an 18-point lead at Atlanta on Saturday night, so an eight-point advantage to start the fourth quarter was anything but safe. Thompson's dunk cut Minnesota's lead to 72-71 just over 3 minutes into the period.Ellington responded with two 3s, the last giving the Wolves an 82-76 lead that helped them start to pull away.NOTES: Wolves swingman Martell Webster, who has not played this season after having back surgery, was cleared for contact on Monday and will practice on Tuesday. There is still no timetable for his return. C Brad Miller, still recovering from microfracture knee surgery, is returning to practice as well. ... Wolves F Michael Beasley missed his sixth straight game with a sprained right foot. ... NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver attended the game.

Source: Kings hire Perry as Executive VP of Basketball Operations

Source: Kings hire Perry as Executive VP of Basketball Operations

SACRAMENTO -- The changes keep coming in Sacramento. NBC Sports California has confirmed that the Kings have hired former Orlando Magic executive, Scott Perry, to fill the role of Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations.

Perry will report directly to Vlade Divac, who will retain final say in player personnel decisions.

Perry spent the last five seasons in Orlando as Vice President of Basketball Operations and Assistant General Manager. He was let go from the Magic last week following the dismissal of General Manager Rob Hennigan.

Perry, 53, began his career as an executive with the Detroit Pistons where he held the position of Director of Player Personnel from 2000-2007. He briefly left the Pistons, joining the Seattle Supersonics organization as an Assistant General Manager of the team for the 2007-08 season, before spending another four years as Detroit’s Vice President of Basketball Operations from 2008-2012.

Highly regarded around the league, Perry adds another experienced basketball mind to the Kings front office.

During his postseason media availability last week, Vlade Divac spoke openly about his willingness to accept additional help.

“We’re open always to improve - the team, the front office, everything is open for improvement,” Divac said. “I’m very happy and confident in what we have right now, but like I said, we should be open if something can you better.”

With the addition of Luke Bornn on Wednesday to head up the team’s analytics department, and Perry on Friday, the Kings appear to be building a stronger infrastructure as they move into a full youth movement.

Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical was first with the information.

Kings add new stat guru Luke Bornn to front office

Kings add new stat guru Luke Bornn to front office

SACRAMENTO -- Changes are coming to the Sacramento Kings. The team quietly made news on Monday evening when it was reported that Roland Beech, the Kings VP of Basketball Results, will not return after two years on the job.

But Sacramento hasn’t abandoned the analytics movement. In fact, they are about to invest heavily in a new group, with a new face at the helm. -- Luke Bornn, who will join the Kings front office as the new VP of Analytics and Strategy, NBC Sports California has learned.

In accepting the role, Bornn, 31, will leave soccer giant A.S. Roma as well as his positions as an assistant professor at Simon Fraser University and visiting scholar at Harvard University. He’ll be taxed with building a new department in Sacramento that will look to bring in some of the brightest minds in the field of analytics.

He is a stat head for sure, but one with a focus on creating a system of sketching and mapping the spatial movements of players using the incredible technologies now available to teams through the NBA’s SportVU system.

“We’ll be looking at more advanced modeling tools often with the player tracking data to try and get a deeper understanding of player performance,” Bornn told NBC Sports California. “There is a lot of what happens on the court that really is not picked up by the box score. A lot of players that make big contributions make it in ways that don’t appear. It’s not an assist, it’s not a rebound, it’s not a block.”

According to their site, “SportVU utilizes a six-camera system installed in basketball arenas to track the real-time positions of players and the ball 25 times per second. Utilizing this tracking data, STATS is able to create a wealth of innovative statistics based on speed, distance, player separation and ball possession.”

Introduced to the basketball data world while working at Harvard in 2012 by Kirk Goldsberry, who now works for the San Antonio Spurs front office, Bornn is already well known in the basketball world for his work.

“Kirk and I sort of hit it off,” Bornn said. “He had just gotten SportVU data and he basically said to me, ‘I have this data, but I have no idea what to do with it, I have the basketball side, but I don’t have the technical side.’ I had the technical side and so it started a long collaboration of working with player tracking data.”

Bornn has co-authored papers presented at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in each of the previous four years, including four straight Sloan finalist papers.

Every team in the league has someone looking over this data, but Bornn hopes to tailor the information to the needs of the Kings’ staff.

“It’s not about me coming in and saying, ‘Here is how to think about the game and here’s the magic numbers,’” Bornn said. “It’s really about me going to them and saying, ‘How do you think about the game, what is it that you care about, is there questions you want answered and can I help you with that?’”  

The plan is for Bornn and his team to build a database of sorts that is accessible to players, coaches and the front office that relies heavily on video to show information, instead of just numbers on a page. They will have your conventional statistics, but an array of other options as well specifically created for the team.

“My role with the Kings will be all encompassing,” Bornn said. “It’s player evaluation, opponent scouting, it’s performance - with the sports science group there. We’ll be looking at all aspects, from the basics of stats, all the way to the more advanced metrics.”

From developing oncourt strategies to charting player health, Bornn and his team will make information accessible to the Kings’ front office, coaching and medical staff with the hope of adding yet another resource for the franchise.

Predicting player injuries is one of the hot button topics in the NBA at this moment with the league going as far as elongating the All-Star break and taking another 10 days onto the schedule to help spread out back-to-back games. It’s a complex issue that is in its fledgling stages.

“In terms of injuries, that’s where everyone wants to go and I think that’s where we’ll aim to go as well, but right now, that’s very much an unsolved problem,” Bornn said.

It appears that the Kings are jumping into the analytics field with both feet. Bornn is moving to Sacramento with his family and will be on the ground as the Kings prepare for a very important 2017 NBA Draft and then free agency.