Kings’ defense frustratingly absent in loss to T-Wolves originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
Defense, once again, was the Kings’ Achilles heel in their 117-110 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday at Target Center.
Three days after the Toronto Raptors’ physicality bothered the Kings in their 113-95 loss, Sacramento (27-21) appeared hesitant to put bodies on certain players and at the beginning of the game, that player was Timberwolves (26-25) guard D’Angelo Russell.
“In the first half, D-Lo had a terrific game — he just doesn’t feel us at all,” Kings coach Mike Brown told reporters postgame. “Somehow, some way, we have to come to these games with a mindset that we’re going to make guys feel us. We’re going to put pressure on the ball and we’re not going to close short, especially after a guy hits two 3s back-to-back.
“Our intensity and awareness level has to go up and it hasn’t.”
Russell came out of the gates firing, going 4-of-4 from beyond the arc in the first 12 minutes of the game. The 26-year-old continued to do damage in the second quarter, again going 4-of-4 from the field and 3-of-3 from 3-point range to end the first half with 23 points and three assists.
And while Sacramento contained Russell in the second half, holding him to only two points, it was Timberwolves star Anthony Edwards’ turn to take over.
After scoring just eight points in the first half, Sacramento’s defense allowed Edwards to score 26 points in the second half, as the 21-year-old erupted for 16 points in the third quarter alone.
“Huge game,” Brown continued. “And he was just raising over us and knocking down shots and shooting 3s.
“Somehow, some way, we’re going to have to find somebody that can defend these guys because for one guy to go 14 for 21, another guy goes 8 for 14, but more importantly 12 for 16 from the 3-point line, it’s not a good recipe right now.”
Even with Sacramento finding themselves down by as many as 11 at various points in the game, the Kings kept fighting back. With 37.9 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, Kings star De’Aaron Fox had a dunk to cut the deficit to four, 114-110.
However, as time was slowly ticking away, Edwards hit a stepback 3-pointer to give the Timberwolves a 117-110 lead with 16.2 seconds left. From that point on, the Kings missed all of their remaining attempts and Sacramento dropped the first game on its season-long seven-game road trip.
As always, Fox was Fox in the fourth quarter.
After being held to only eight points in the first three quarters, Fox had 21 of his team-high 29 points in the final frame, doing his best to keep the Kings in the contest.
Along with Fox, Domantas Sabonis broke out of his two-game funk, scoring 23 points, grabbing 10 rebounds and dishing out four assists in his 39 minutes of action.
More importantly, the 26-year-old only had three turnovers, compared to his previous two games where he had 17 turnovers combined.
Overall, the Timberwolves shot 52.5 percent from the field and 45.9 percent from the 3-point line compared to the Kings’ 45.1 percent and 27.3 percent, respectively. Moreover, Sacramento hit 27 of its 36 free throws (75 percent), while Minnesota was slightly better, going 16-of-21 (76.2 percent) from the stripe.
Brown understands that Sacramento’s high-powered offense can give the team a chance to win every single night. Ultimately, Brown says it’s “fool’s gold” if the Kings, as a whole, believe that outscoring their opponents will work when the playoffs come.
“So somehow, someway, I have to find combinations of players that can score and are willing to get stops for us, especially throughout the meat of the game so guys just don’t feel comfortable coming and playing and shooting like they did,” Brown said.
RELATED: Brown, Monk believe Raptors physicality bothered Kings
The Kings are back in action against these same Timberwolves on Monday for the second game of Sacramento’s seven-game road trip.
Sacramento fans are hopeful the two days off can help instill some defensive principles to help the Kings be more successful on the defensive end of the floor.
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