The combination of Jimmy Butler, Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins overwhelmed the Kings, sending Sacramento to a 119-96 defeat Thursday night at Target Center.
Minnesota broke the game open by outscoring the Kings 31-16 in the third quarter. Towns led Minnesota (17-12) with 30 points, 14 rebounds, five assists and five blocks. Wiggins had 22 points and Butler had 21 points, nine assists and seven rebounds.
George Hill led the Kings (9-19) with 16 points. Zach Randolph had 15 points and nine rebounds. Point guard De’Aaron Fox exited in the first quarter with a left quadriceps contusion and did not return.
Here are three takeaways from the game:
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Nothing comes easy
Going against a halfcourt defense coached by Tom Thibodeau isn’t easy and the Kings were reminded of that as they shot 41.4 percent for the game and had just three fast-break points.
The Kings also shot only 12 free throws, making 10.
Randolph has carried the offense lately. Hill has found his game in the last two contests. But there has to be more defensive pressure and easy baskets off defense. The Kings scored just nine points off turnovers while giving up 18 off turnovers.
Switching starters at power forward
Willie Cauley-Stein started the second half after coach Dave Joerger shuffled the lineup following Fox’s injury. Cauley-Stein has played well as a reserve, and Joerger has to seriously consider moving him back into the starting lineup.
Skal Labissiere continues to struggle as a starter and might benefit from coming off the bench, as Cauley-Stein did.
Cauley-Stein already plays the majority of the minutes at power forward and Randolph is comfortable at center.
Thursday wasn’t Cauley-Stein’s best game (nine points on 3-of-10 shooting, two rebounds), but elevating him to the starting lineup would allow Labissiere to find his game in small doses against backups.
Garrett Temple is shooting 4 for 24 in his last five games. He had three points Thursday after going scoreless in his previous two outings. Temple’s role as the starting small forward means defending someone much bigger than him most nights.
He is the Kings most versatile perimeter defender, but having to contend with the likes of Wiggins nightly has to wear on him and impact on his offense.