MINNEAPOLIS Kings coach Keith Smart has said repeatedly his team has no superstar and any given night a different player could show up as the star of the game.
Tuesday night, those players came off the bench and nearly rallied the Kings to their fourth consecutive win.
But Donté Greene's three-point attempt hit the rim just before the final buzzer as the Kings lost 86-84 to the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center.
It was fitting that the outcome came down to Greene because the Kings came back in the fourth quarter behind some players who hadn't played big roles lately.
Greene hadn't played in the previous three games. Rookie Jimmer Fredette, who didn't play in two games last week, scored 13 of the Kings' first 15 points of the fourth quarter.
"I didn't realize that," Fredette said of his scoring. I was just playing. I knew I was shooting the ball well, and we were coming back in the game more importantly.
Greene's three-pointer tied the score 82-82 with 1:09 left, but Minnesota rookie Derrick Williams make a three with 56.8 seconds to play.
Greene thought he had won the game when he launched his last shot with one second to go.
"It felt like the three I'd just hit before," Greene said. "It just didn't go our way tonight. Guys stepped up, played hard. We just couldn't pull a win out."
Smart said he is trying to cultivate Fredette's role as a catalyst for the second unit, and Fredette excelled Tuesday.
Smart said he saw growth in Fredette's handling of being benched and his readiness against the Timberwolves.
"Sometimes when you're playing, you can't really see it," Smart said. "You can sit back a few games here and there and see some things."
Fredette did his best to turn not playing for two games into a positive experience.
"When you're watching the game, I try to pick up on things," Fredette said. "I try not to zone out. I try to still be in involved in the game plan, encourage teammates and see what I can do better when I get out there.
"It's something I'll continue to get better at when I get out there and make the best of my opportunities like I did tonight."
Had the Kings not fallen behind big, they wouldn't have needed the bench to rally them.
The Timberwolves (13-12), without suspended All-Star Kevin Love, jumped out to a 31-16 lead after one quarter.
The Kings (9-16) outscored the Timberwolves in every other quarter and held the Timberwolves to 40.5 percent shooting. But the Kings shot just 37.8 percent and missed seven of their 21 free throws.
This was the second game this season in which the Kings never led.
"They've got the ability to play, compete and get back in games," Smart said. "Nevertheless we got outscored 31-16, that's the game right there."
Minnesota rookie Ricky Rubio finished with 14 assists, the most against the Kings this season.
Timberwolves center Nikola Pekovic, starting for the injured Darko Milicic, had 23 points and 10 rebounds.
Marcus Thornton led the Kings with 22 points.