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  • Jim Mone / The Associated Press

    Minnesota’s Ricky Rubio dislodges the ball from the Kings’ Isaiah Thomas, whose seven turnovers tied his career high.

  • Jim Mone / The Associated Press

    The Timberwolves’ Kevin Love looks for room to operate against the Kings’ DeMarcus Cousins.

Gay steps up as Kings hang on to beat Timberwolves

Published: Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014 - 12:00 am
Last Modified: Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014 - 8:27 am

Tuesday night in Indianapolis, Rudy Gay apologized to his Kings teammates.

The loss that night to the Indiana Pacers wasn’t solely Gay’s fault. It’s hard to blame only one player in a team game, especially a game in which the Kings trailed by as many as 29 points.

Gay, however, felt he needed to acknowledge his part in the loss.

“I didn’t play well at all,” he said. “I didn’t play well offensively or defensively. I wasn’t a presence. I didn’t rebound. I was just out there.”

Wednesday night, Gay had no reason to apologize. He scored a season-high 33 points and helped prevent a late collapse by the Kings in their 111-108 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center.

In the first half, Gay got the Kings going with 22 points. And when the Kings threatened to blow a 14-point fourth-quarter lead, he hit a 3-pointer with 19.5 seconds to play to give them a 107-102 lead.

Gay also had six assists, five rebounds, two steals and a blocked shot.

“There’s still more I could have done,” he said.

Gay’s all-around performance impressed Kings coach Michael Malone.

“To his credit, he’s such a pro,” Malone said. “… He felt he didn’t show up, and for (Wednesday) for him to come out and get 33 points on 12-of-19 shooting, six assists and five rebounds shows you his versatility and his efficiency as a basketball player.”

The Kings (14-23) have won four of their last five games. Gay is averaging 23.8 points and shooting 59.5 percent (44 for 74) over that span. The only game in that stretch in which he failed to score at least 20 points was the loss at Indiana, where he had 12 points.

“Before I left the hotel, I knew I had to come out here and perform for my teammates,” Gay said.

Gay’s efforts helped the Kings survive a shaky fourth quarter. Minnesota (18-20) shot 44.3 percent overall but scored 35 points in the fourth quarter on 56.5 percent shooting.

The Kings led 102-91 with 3:18 to play before the Timberwolves went on an 8-0 run. Sacramento took shots early in the shot clock, did not execute out of timeouts and fouled unnecessarily late to help Minnesota stay close.

“I feel like we kind of got into a panic towards the end and we lost our composure towards the end,” DeMarcus Cousins said. “We put out an ugly win, but I’ll take it.”

Cousins didn’t put up gaudy statistics but recorded his 12th consecutive double double with 20 points and 11 rebounds. That is the second-longest streak in Sacramento history, trailing the 13 by LaSalle Thompson during the 1985-86 season.

Derrick Williams had 16 points in his first game in Minnesota since the Timberwolves traded him to the Kings on Nov. 26. With Minnesota, which drafted him with the second overall choice in 2011, he never lived up to the expectations of being a high pick.

“You want to play well when you come back,” Williams said. “I know I had the pressure on myself. I know I wanted to stick to the game plan like I had been doing and just keep playing hard. And the coach has a lot of faith in me to get out there and do what I do.”

Isaiah Thomas also scored in double figures for the Kings with 26 points to go with seven assists, but he matched his career high with seven turnovers.

Kings rookie Ben McLemore left in the second quarter because of a sprained left ankle, but Malone and McLemore said they don’t believe the injury will result in missed playing time.

Kevin Love led the Timberwolves with 27 points and 11 rebounds. He made two 3-pointers late to keep the Timberwolves close.

The Kings, however, showed enough poise to overcome their mistakes down the stretch..

“No matter how you win, when you win these types of games, it means something,” Thomas said. “But we’ve still got a lot of work to do, a lot of things to fix.”

Follow The Bee’s Jason Jones on Twitter @mr_jasonjones and read more about the team at

Read more articles by Jason Jones

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