By Dave “Deuce” Mason
“All You Need Is Love” should have been blaring through the Timberwolves’ locker room following their 97-89 win over the Kings on Tuesday night.
Kevin Love—who was in his fourth game back after returning from a broken right hand— scored 23 points and grabbed 24 rebounds as Minnesota snapped a five-game losing skid.
It’s the fourth time in his career he’s had 24 or more rebounds in a game, according to ESPN Stats and Information.
“The guy is a phenomenal rebounder,” said Kings head coach Keith Smart. “It’s the first guy off the floor that wins the battle.”
The Kings cut the lead to 91-89 with 1:20 to go, but Smart cited poor execution in the final two minutes as one of the reasons for the loss.
“Every possession is critical offensively and defensively and we took some bad shots on the offensive side,” Smart said.
Second-year point guard Isaiah Thomas finished with 12 points, three assists and three rebounds in 21 minutes and said they must clean up their late game execution.
“We got to learn from it and we got to fix it or we’re not going to win these close games.” Thomas said.
Cousins struggles against Pekovic:
Nikola Pekovic may not be a household name to the casual fan, but he provides a lot for Minnesota’s frontline. Pekovic finished with 16 points, eight rebounds and four assists, but his defense on DeMarcus Cousins was most impressive on Tuesday night.
Cousins had trouble getting anything going inside on Pekovic—who’s known for his strength—and Cousins was forced to rely on his outside game.
Here are the numbers:
-Cousins was 2-6 on shots inside the key.
-The rest of his shots came from the outside where he had some success early but finished 5-13 from outside the key.
Smart said Cousins—who played 28 minutes—was unable to get in a rhythm due to foul trouble.
“It wasn’t Pekovic, it was fouls. You know the guy [Cousins] had no rhythm,” Smart said.“The guys in foul trouble all night long so it had nothing to do with Pekovic. Pekovic is Pekovic, you know?”
Foul trouble or not, Smart later admitted that Pekovic wasn’t allowing Cousins to go inside.
“You don’t just move Pekovic. You don’t just move him out of the way,” Smart said.
“That’s a load down there.”
Timberwolves guard JJ Barea is known for his “acting”. Isaiah Thomas said Barea was up to his flopping ways on Tuesday.
“I think he flops but it is what it is… that’s what he does and sometimes he gets away with it,” Thomas said.
Barea was warned by the NBA after his flop in the Kings first game against the Timberwolves on Nov. 2. The NBA is making it a point to crack down on flopping this season.
A “flop” is an attempt to either fool referees into calling undeserved fouls or fool fans into thinking the referees missed a foul call by exaggerating the effect of contact with an opposing player, according to the NBA.
After the first warning, a player will be fined $5,000 and the fines increase with each violation.
Tyreke’s offensive production improves:
Tyreke Evans struggled with his offense to start the season, but Evans has had 18 or more points in the last five games. The main difference: he’s knocking down the open jumper. He was 4-5 from outside on Tuesday and finished with 20 points, seven rebounds and six assists.
A Look Ahead:
Sacramento is off until Friday night when they host the Indiana Pacers. The Kings suffered an overtime loss in Indiana on Nov. 3.
The Pacers (7-8) are coming off a road win against the Lakers on Tuesday night.
Hear Dave “Deuce” Mason on The Jason Ross Show and follow him on Twitter: @DeuceMason