The Minnesota Timberwolves, much like any team that will miss out on this year’s playoffs, is looking for any bright spots as the regular season winds down.
Corey Brewer just gave them one.
Coming off one of the most surprising scoring outbursts in NBA history, Brewer and the Timberwolves travel to Sacramento on Sunday night to face the Kings.
Brewer, a seventh-year pro with a career scoring mark of 10.0 points per game, erupted for a franchise record-tying 51 on Friday in a 112-110 victory over Houston.
With the Wolves playing without injured star Kevin Love – whose team record Brewer matched – the forward finished with the fourth-highest total in an NBA game this season, going 19 of 30 from the field and 11 of 15 at the free throw line.
He eclipsed 50 with a pair of free throws with 1:43 to play that gave Minnesota a 105-103 lead. Brewer joins Kevin Durant (twice), LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Terrence Ross in the 50-point club this season.
"You know how many guys scored 50 in the NBA?" Brewer said. "That’s what makes it such a special night because I never in my career expected to score 50. … There’s a lot of good company up there."
Brewer also had six steals to become only the fourth in NBA history to score at least 50 with at least six steals. The others are Michael Jordan, Allen Iverson and Rick Barry.
"I was just playing — I wasn’t thinking about it until someone said you have 44, you could get 50 tonight," said Brewer, who had never scored more than 29 in his career. "I was like, OK, whatever, then I actually got 50."
The Timberwolves (40-39) may need to rely on Brewer again given their mounting injuries. Minnesota’s top two scorers, Love (elbow) and Kevin Martin (foot), both sat against the Rockets and will be gametime decisions in Sacramento.
Minnesota has the longest active playoff drought in the league, failing to reach the postseason since Kevin Garnett led the team to the 2004 Western Conference finals. With victories in at least two of their final three games, the Timberwolves will finish with a winning record for the first time since that season.
The Kings (27-53), who haven’t reached the playoffs since 2006, are also looking for anything positive to carry into the offseason.
A rare bright spot has been center DeMarcus Cousins, who will likely finish with career bests in points, rebounds and assists. Cousins scored 32 with 12 boards Saturday against the Los Angeles Clippers, but the Kings lost their fifth straight game, 117-101.
Sacramento’s defense crumbled in the second half, allowing the Clippers to make 54 percent of their shots after halftime. The Kings were also outscored 25-5 on the break.
"I just hated our defense," Sacramento coach Mike Malone said. "We couldn’t get any stops. Defensively, they just got whatever they wanted. It was just layup after layup after layup."
The Timberwolves dropped the first meeting this season but have won two straight, including a 108-97 road victory March 1. Minnesota hasn’t won three in a row against Sacramento in the same season since 2003-04.