Back-to-back gems: Balanced Wolves top Kings in playoff atmosphere

Chris Hine, Star Tribune on

Published in Basketball

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — One of the defining wins of the Timberwolves season came earlier in March when they came into Sacramento on the tail end of a back-to-back and pulled out a victory over the fast-paced Kings.

The Wolves returned to Sacramento in similar circumstances after beating Golden State on Sunday during their final West Coast trip of the season.

The Wolves repeated their recent history with another important victory, this time 119-115 at Golden1 Center with Karl-Anthony Towns out because of a rest day as he comes back from his injured right calf.

The Wolves controlled a close game in the fourth quarter with some timely stops and big buckets up and down the roster, which typified their effort for the night. Both Jaden McDaniels and Naz Reid had thunderous dunks and the Wolves made it difficult for the league's top offense to score in the halfcourt.

The Wolves had seven players in double figures, with McDaniels scoring 20 to lead the way. Reid was again huge off the bench with 18. Kyle Anderson had 15 points and 11 assists while Rudy Gobert had 16 points and 15 rebounds. They committed just six turnovers on the night. De'Aaron Fox had 27 for the Kings.

A night after McDaniels scored one point, the Wolves made it a point to involve him early. They ran the first play to get him a layup, and that set the tone for this first quarter, in which he shot 6-for-6.


McDaniels keyed a hot start for the Wolves that calmed down a crowd that was set to explode from the opening tip. The Wolves shot 52% in the first quarter and led by as much as 13 before carrying a 34-25 lead into the second.

The Kings chipped away at the Wolves lead throughout the second quarter and got as close as 43-39 before coach Chris Finch rotated back in his starting lineup. The Wolves pushed it back up to nine before foul trouble started having an impact on the night, and the Wolves started showing frustration with the officiating. Both Mike Conley and Rudy Gobert hit the bench with three fouls a piece.

Free points at the line also helped the Kings erase the Wolves' lead completely by halftime and Sacramento led 58-57. The offense also dried up for the Wolves in the second quarter, as they shot just 9-for-23 after their strong first quarter.

The third quarter was about as close and competitive as a single quarter could get. Neither team led by more than three while the Wolves got their offense back on track. They shot 61%, and that helped them keep pace with the Kings, who had the most efficient offense in the league entering the night. Anderson had 10 in the quarter to give the Wolves an 86-85 edge headed into the fourth.


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