Kings 114, Timberwolves 100
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP)
Heading into the fourth quarter with a 33-point lead and victory nearly assured, the biggest drama remaining for the Sacramento Kings was whether Tyreke Evans would get his second triple-double in five days.
A rookie point guard, Evans didn't get the triple-double, but the Kings still got the lopsided victory.
Evans had 29 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds to lead the Kings over the Minnesota Timberwolves, 114-100 on Sunday night.
On a night when even his erratic jumper was going in, Evans shot 10 of 19, including two 3-pointers, and made all seven free throws. He left the game with 6:04 remaining when Kings coach Paul Westphal decided emptying his bench was more important than leaving Evans in the game to pursue one more rebound.
``If I got it, I got. If not, it was OK,'' Evans said. ``I knew I was close. He just left me in longer than what he should have. I was attacking and trying to get the triple-double.''
Evans, who recorded his first career triple-double Wednesday against Toronto, scored 24 points in the opening half to help Sacramento assume a 64-49 lead. The Kings scored 15 unanswered points in the first five minutes of the third quarter, including 11 from streaky-shooting Donte Greene, to push the lead to 30.
``I don't think we let him (Evans) have anything, he just took it,'' Minnesota center Ryan Hollins said. ``He got to the hole and he started hitting jump shots. When he started hitting jump shots that was pretty much the end of things.''
Greene had 19 points and eight rebounds, helping the Kings avoid their fifth loss in six games. Jason Thompson had 15 points and eight rebounds, Carl Landry scored 13 points and Andres Nocioni had 12.
``I thought that Donte really had a good rhythm on his shot,'' Westphal said. ``He had great balance, took his time, took good shots, and really helped break the game open.''
Al Jefferson had 22 points and 10 rebounds for the Timberwolves. Not even a 39-20 edge in the fourth quarter could prevent Minnesota from losing its ninth straight.
Minnesota played its second straight game minus injured Kevin Love, the team's leading rebounder and second-leading scorer. Wayne Ellington had 15, Ryan Gomes scored 14 and Ramon Sessions had 13.
Following a subpar 10-point game Friday night in a lopsided loss to Portland, Evans had surpassed that total even before the first quarter ended. After sitting out half of the second quarter, Evans entered the game and quickly took over, scoring the Kings' final 12 points.
With the Kings comfortably ahead, Evans went into passing mode in the third quarter, getting seven assists. Greene had a crowd-pleasing, one-hand dunk off Evans' pass and scored 13 points to help the Kings take a 94-61 lead into the fourth quarter.
``His night was sensational. He (Evans) started off kind of slow, then when we got some stops and got in the open floor he was just unbelievable attacking the rim,'' Westphal said. ``I think he's going to have lots and lots of triple-doubles in his career. No, he wasn't begging to go back in.''
Although these teams seem headed for the NBA draft lottery, the Kings appear to own the brighter future right now. Sacramento won its 23rd game, while the Timberwolves (14-52) are 1-15 since beating Memphis on Feb. 6.
``What they have to understand is that a lot has to come from within,'' Minnesota coach Kurt Rambis said. ``There is no rule or law that you he a night to be given anything in this league. No one is going to hand you wins.''
In the opening half, the Timberwolves were demonstrating why they allow the second-most points per game (nearly 107) in the NBA. The Kings had 23 points off the fast break, shot 48 percent and committed only four turnovers.
Defense has become such a frustrating aspect for the Timberwolves that both Al Jefferson and Kevin Love questioned the game plan of Rambis following a loss to Denver on Wednesday.
NOTES: The Timberwolves have lost 16 of 18 away from Minnesota and started a stretch of six of seven road games. ... Evans started strong, getting 12 points and four rebounds in the opening quarter when the Kings led 32-28. ... Damien Wilkins ended the first quarter with a 3-pointer from halfcourt at the buzzer.