Final Score: Minnesota 92, Sacramento 80
Minneapolis, MN (Sports Network) - No Kevin Love, no Ricky Rubio, no problem
for the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday.
J.J. Barea poured in a game-high 21 points and handed out five assists as the
T'Wolves knocked off the Sacramento Kings, 92-80, in their season opener at
Brandon Roy, who missed the entire 2011-12 season after he announced his
retirement in March of 2011, returned to the hardwood and scored 10 points to
go with six assists and five rebounds, while Andrei Kirilenko added 10 points,
five assists and seven rebounds in the T'Wolves' first home-opening win since
Love, the T'Wolves All-Star center, will be out likely until the Christmas
holiday after he broke his hand in the offseason, while Rubio suffered a torn
ACL last March.
"The win is the most important thing for us," T'Wolves center Nikola Pekovic
said. "We played well in the preseason, so we just wanted to carry it to
tonight. We just need to make sure we play defense all season long, and we
certainly did that tonight."
Isaiah Thomas scored 20 points, while Marcus Thornton contributed 15 points
on 6-of-13 shooting for the Kings, who fell to Chicago in their season-opener
Minnesota dominated the first quarter, racing out to an 11-4 lead less than
four minutes into the game.
The Timberwolves shot 45.8 percent in the quarter and led by 10 heading to the
The Kings cut the deficit to seven on a Thornton free throw early in the
second quarter, but Minnesota ripped off a 17-6 burst over the next seven-plus
minutes of action to build a 45-27 lead.
Sacramento answered with a 14-5 surge to close the first half trailing, 50-41.
The Kings came out inspired after the break, outscoring the Timberwolves
20-6 to take a 61-56 lead with 5:26 to play in the third stanza. Thomas capped
the spurt by nailing a 3-pointer.
"We got up by five there, the momentum was on our side," Kings coach Keith
Smart said. "We just took some ill-advised shots. That's part of growing up
with a young team."
Minnesota responded by netting 12 consecutive points, capped by a Greg
Stiemsma slam with 1:47 left in the quarter.
The T'Wolves led 70-65 heading to the final quarter.
Jason Thompson hit a pair of free throws midway through the period to pull
the Kings within 77-74, but the T'Wolves pulled away from there, scoring the
next eight points.
Williams, last season's No. 2 overall pick in the draft, finished with eight
points and seven boards ... Kirilenko played the entire 2011-12 season in
Russia after signing there during the lockout. He won the Euro League MVP
award that season ... The Timberwolves signed Roy to a two-year contract in
July ... Stiemsma finished with nine points, seven rebounds and four blocks.
11/03 01:45:02 ET
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