MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Rudy Gay had 33 points, five rebounds and six assists, and Isaiah Thomas had 26 points and seven assists to lead the Sacramento Kings to a 111-108 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday night.
Gay hit 12 of 19 shots and Derrick Williams had 16 points on 7-of-11 shooting in his first game at Target Center since the Timberwolves traded him to the Kings in November. DeMarcus Cousins had 20 points and 11 boards, and the Kings shot 55 percent to win for the fourth time in five games.
Kevin Love had 27 points and 11 rebounds for Minnesota. But Ricky Rubio committed five of Minnesota’s 12 turnovers and the Wolves fell to 0-11 in games decided by four points or less.
The Kings seemed to have the game well in hand with a nine-point lead and under two minutes to play.
But Nikola Pekovic scored on a layup, J.J. Barea hit two free throws and Alexey Shved converted on a fast break to make it 102-99 with 61 seconds to play. Love hit two 3-pointers and Barea converted a three-point play that cut the deficit to 109-108 with 4.6 seconds remaining, but Barea’s heave at the buzzer fell short.
The Kings had a three-game winning streak come to a crashing halt the previous night when they were drubbed by the Indiana Pacers. But they showed more energy, aggressiveness and spark from the opening tip against a team that had the previous two days off and is scratching and clawing to stay in the playoff conversation in the powerful Western Conference.
The Timberwolves’ most damaging loss this season was delivered thanks in large part to an old friend.
Williams spent a little more than two underwhelming seasons in Minnesota to start his career. The former No. 2 overall pick just never fit in with the Rick Adelman’s corner offense, getting stuck behind Love and veteran Dante Cunningham on the depth chart. Before he was traded to Sacramento at the end of November, Williams was averaging a paltry 14.7 minutes per game and was a healthy scratch four times.
On Wednesday night, he resembled much more closely the player that the Wolves thought they were getting in 2011. He shot 5 of 6 in the first half, and four of those were soaring dunks that flashed the kind of athleticism that was on display too little while he was here. When Wolves shooting guard Shved was caught on him on a switch, Williams backed him down forcefully and threw down a two-handed slam.
Williams stole the ball and went coast-to-coast for a layup and also threw down a lob pass in transition from Jimmer Fredette in transition that drew a big gasp from fans who wanted to see that in a Timberwolves uniform.
Williams’ electricity and Gay’s shot-making helped the Kings overcome a quiet start from Cousins, who picked up two fouls in the first quarter and missed his first four shots before getting on the board late in the second quarter. Gay started 8 for 11 and the Kings led by 11 at halftime.
Cousins got going in the second half, scoring all but two of his points to help the Kings grind out their fifth road win of the season in 15 games.
NOTES: Kings G Ben McLemore left the game in the second quarter with a sprained left ankle. ... Gay has scored 20 or more 7 of last 10 and 11 times in 17 games since he was acquired in a trade from Toronto.