The Kings have had a lot of problems this season, but their situation is even worse when DeMarcus Cousins misses a game.
The injury-depleted Minnesota Timberwolves even proved difficult at times for the Kings to handle Tuesday night at Sleep Train Arena, but Sacramento held on to win 116-111 and break a five-game losing streak.
Cousins missed the game because of a sore right foot and will visit a foot specialist today in Los Angeles. The Kings are 4-14 without him this season.
Replacing Cousins’ scoring, rebounding and defense has been a challenge for the Kings. Tuesday, the Kings needed a collective effort against the Timberwolves, who have lost seven in a row and started three rookies.
The Kings found offense thanks to a career-high 31 points from Omri Casspi. His previous best was 24 points on Jan. 5, 2010. Casspi said he was more “happy that we won the game more than anything.”
Casspi carried the Kings in the third quarter, scoring 16 points.
“It felt like I got in a good rhythm,” he said. “I wasn’t forcing shots.”
Casspi made 12 of 20 shots, both career highs.
“(Casspi) was due for it,” the Kings’ Rudy Gay said. “He’s been playing hard. He’s been playing really good basketball and been real consistent as of late.”
Gay, who missed the previous three games because of a concussion, had 33 points, seven rebounds and five assists.
Gay said headaches were his biggest obstacle to returning to action. He hopes to get through the night without any more headaches and play tonight at Utah.
“It’s tough,” Gay said. “It’s not like any other injury. It’s your brain, so just make sure that’s right.”
Sacramento outrebounded the Timberwolves 49-36, led by guard Ray McCallum’s career-high nine rebounds.
The Kings needed that interior advantage because their perimeter defense was again exploited.
Kevin Martin led the Timberwolves with 37 points and added eight assists. Rookie of the Year candidate Andrew Wiggins had his third strong game this season against Sacramento with 26 points. Rookie Zach LaVine had 21 points and 11 assists.
The Kings led by 19 in the third quarter before Martin and Wiggins helped the Timberwolves outscore the Kings 37-26 in the fourth to make the game competitive late.
“I didn’t think we were very smart defensively, but it’s a win. It’s getting that monkey off your back,” Kings coach George Karl said. “Hopefully, we know we’ve got to play better on the road to win some games. We’d like to get one or two on the road to finish up the season.”
The Kings begin a three-game trip tonight. If and when they’ll have Cousins back is uncertain. He has been bothered by a sore right foot off and on for some time.
Karl said team doctors were still evaluating Cousins in addition to the second opinion.
“After that, I would rather wait,” Karl said. “There’s going to be a couple of doctor appointments between now and (Friday), so I’d rather wait.”
Reggie Evans started at center for Cousins. The Kings will have one more post player back tonight. Carl Landry will be available after serving a one-game suspension for leaving the bench area during an altercation Sunday between teammate Derrick Williams and Utah’s Rudy Gobert.
Bhullar debuts – Kings rookie center Sim Bhullar played the final 16.1 seconds, making him the first player of Indian descent to play in an NBA game.
Bhullar is Canadian and was born in Toronto.
Still rivals – Karl is a proud graduate of North Carolina, where he played for legendary coach Dean Smith.
Karl was asked how he felt about rival Duke winning the NCAA championship over Wisconsin on Monday night.
“Poorly, very poorly,” Karl said. “I felt great with about 14 minutes to go in the game.”
That was when the Badgers appeared to be in control before the Blue Devils rallied