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.

Former Kings PG Jason Williams injured in BIG3’s inaugural game

Former Kings PG Jason Williams injured in BIG3’s inaugural game

NEW YORK -- Basketball's newest league started with a game-winning basket and an injured former NBA player.

Rashard Lewis made a three-point play with his team facing game point Sunday in the opening game of the Big3, the 3-on-3 basketball league co-founded by Ice Cube.

Jason Williams, the flashy point guard nicknamed "White Chocolate," went down with a right leg injury late in the game. His 3 Headed Monsters blew the late once he went out and were a point away from losing, but Lewis made his basket and free throw to edge the Ghost Ballers, 62-60.

The games are played to 60 points but teams have to win by two, so the Ghost Ballers couldn't quite get there when they went ahead 60-59.

Lewis scored 27 points and former No. 1 pick Kwame Brown had 17 points and 13 rebounds for the 3 Headed Monsters. Ricky Davis led the Ghost Ballers with 23 points.

Cube vowed the games would be competitive - players are vying for a revenue share based on final league standings - and there was a possession early when players on both teams dived on the floor for a loose ball. There was pushing and shoving in the post and a few hard fouls, and the trash talk appeared to heat up as the game went on.

The quality of play wasn't the strongest, but Barclays Center in Brooklyn had a good crowd for the first of four games on the day. Allen Iverson, the former NBA MVP who is the marquee attraction in the league, was scheduled to play in the third game.

The eight-team league will play on 10 weekends, culminating with the Aug. 26 championship in Las Vegas. Games are shown on Monday nights on Fox Sports 1.

How the four Kings rookies fit in heading into 2017-18 season

How the four Kings rookies fit in heading into 2017-18 season

SACRAMENTO - The Sacramento Kings swung for the fences during the NBA Draft Thursday night. They filled holes, took a gamble and might have even come away with a steal or two in their four selections. There are major roster questions that still have to be answered in free agency or through trade, but here is a look at how the new faces fit into the current situation in Sacramento.

De’Aaron Fox, point guard, University of Kentucky
Sacramento let it be known early that Fox was a target. The speedy point guard put on a show in his lone season in Kentucky, averaging 16.7 points, 4.6 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 1.5 steals in 29.6 minutes per game. He’ll need to improve his 3-point shooting (24.6 percent) to keep defenses from sagging off and clogging his running lanes, but his mechanics are sound.

According to Vlade Divac, “De’Aaron is our future.” Whether the team will look to add a veteran presence is still in question. Veterans Darren Collison and Ty Lawson have spoken about their willingness to return as a mentor, but Fox is expected to play major minutes in his rookie season as the Kings look to turn up the tempo.

Fox is a big time athlete with great size for the position. Standing a little over 6-foot-3 with a 6-foot-6.5 wingspan, the left handed point guard projects well on both ends of the floor. He’ll need to add weight to his 170-pound frame, but the Kings have a strong strength and conditioning team that has been working overtime all summer building on last season’s draft class.

With both Collison and Lawson entering free agency unrestricted, Fox is likely the Kings starter on Day 1.

Justin Jackson, small forward, University of North Carolina
Jackson tested the draft waters a year ago and decided to return to the Tar Heels for one more season. The gamble paid off as Jackson and his North Carolina teammates rolled through the NCAA tournament and were crowned champs.

In addition to winning it all, Jackson showed major improvement in his junior year under Roy Williams. The 22-year-old wing posted 18.2 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.8 assists in 32.2 minutes per game. Jackson’s biggest improvement came as a perimeter shooter where he converted 36.8 percent of his 3-point shots, compared to just 29.2 percent as a sophomore.

Like Fox, Jackson needs to add strength and weight to compete in the NBA for 82 games a season. He is a wiry athlete that stands 6-foot-8 with a 6-foot-11 wingspan, but he weighed in at just 201 at the Draft combine (up from his 192 a season ago).

As of today, Jackson is the only true small forward on the Kings roster. They have options in Garrett Temple and Malachi Richardson, but they will likely address the position in free agency or through trade. Jackson will play minutes as a rookie, but how many will be determined by how quickly he can adjust to the NBA level. He’s a mature scorer and he has defensive potential, but he will likely begin his career in a reserve role, at least initially.

Harry Giles, power forward/center, Duke University
There was a time when Giles ranked amongst the very best of high school player in the country. A series of bad breaks led Giles to tumble down the draft board where the Kings were more than willing to gamble at the 20th selection.

You can take his numbers at Duke and throw them out the window, he was never truly healthy in his time with Coach K. Standing 6-foot-10.5 with a 7-foot-3 wingspan, the 232-pound big has an incredible frame. Unfortunately, the frame is supported by two surgically repaired knees.

Giles tore his ACL in both knees as a prep athlete in separate incidents and he needed a third procedure to clean up one of his knees last year. If there is good news here, it is that both knees were damaged in contact injuries, as opposed to the knee giving out in a non-contact situation. The scope that occurred later is also not out of the norm as the body attempts to adjust to the changes in the joint.

Like the Duke medical staff, the Kings will need to show patience in years one and two as Giles continues to heal from the series of surgeries. The Kings knew the risk of drafting the talented 19-year-old and they also know that players like Danny Manning, Amar’e Stoudemire and Kenyon Martin went on to have very successful careers after bilateral ACL tears.   

Don’t expect Giles to play major minutes in year one, but the Kings fell in love with his talent in a pre-draft workout in Sacramento. The team has a bevy of bigs, including Skal Labissiere, Willie Cauley-Stein, Kosta Koufos and Georgios Papagiannis. This is a risk/reward pick for the future. If Giles can get right, he could be the best big man taken in the 2017 NBA Draft and maybe even a lot more than that.

Frank Mason III, point guard, Kansas University
Despite collecting a room full of trophies in his senior year at Kansas, Mason slid to the early second round where the Kings shunned trade offers and pounced. Like Fox, the high-flying guard was a major target of the Kings, even coming to Sacramento twice for visits before draft night.

The 23-year-old Wooden Award winner dominated in his final season under Bill Self, averaging 20.9 points, 5.2 assists, 4.2 rebounds and 1.3 steals in 36.1 minutes a night. He even shot 47.1 percent from behind the arc on 4.8 attempts per game. At 6-foot, 189-pounds, the biggest knock on Mason is his lack of size. He makes up for that with power and a 41-inch vertical.

Sacramento is in a tough situation when it comes to their point guard position. Fox was a no-brainer at number five and Mason is an NBA ready contributor at pick 34. But can they walk into a season with two rookies manning the point guard position? 

It’s possible. The Kings have Temple on the roster, who can steal some minutes, but Fox and Mason make an intriguing thunder and lightning pairing that should be a lot of fun to watch. Don’t be shocked if Mason earns a spot in the rotation in training camp and plays solid minutes in a sparkplug role off the bench as a rookie.