Wiggins lifts struggling Timberwolves over Kings
Published 1:29 pm Saturday, December 19, 2015
MINNEAPOLIS — Scoring has always come fairly easily for Andrew Wiggins.
The reigning Rookie of the Year knows that if he is going to help the young Minnesota Timberwolves out of the morass of the last two weeks, he’s going to have to do more than just put the ball in the basket. And he did so much more to bury the Sacramento Kings.
Wiggins had 32 points, 10 rebounds and six assists to lift the struggling Timberwolves to a 99-95 victory on Friday night.
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It was the 20-year-old’s first double-double of the season and he joined LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Tobias Harris as the only players 20 or younger to record at least 30 points, 10 boards and five assists in a game over the past 15 years.
“I’ve just got to look to do more,” Wiggins said. “I’ve been scoring the ball well this year. But I have to do other stuff to help my team.”
Karl-Anthony Towns fought off foul trouble for 15 points and eight rebounds, and Shabazz Muhammad added 16 points and seven boards for the Timberwolves, who had lost eight of their previous nine games. Minnesota outrebounded Sacramento 49-31 in its fourth home victory of the season.
“We had to be punched before we reacted,” Kings coach George Karl said. “I don’t know if we’re good enough to do that on the road.”
DeMarcus Cousins had 24 points, 11 rebounds and four assists for the Kings in their first loss in four games. Rajon Rondo had 13 assists and 11 points in his return from a one-game suspension for directing a gay slur at referee Bill Kennedy, who later came out as gay in an interview with Yahoo Sports.
The Timberwolves led by eight at the start of the fourth quarter, but missed nine of their first 10 shots in the final quarter to let the Kings back in it.
Cousins’ follow shot gave them a 90-89 lead with three minutes to go, but Wiggins scored on an acrobatic drive and then knocked down two free throws for a 93-90 lead with 1:20 to play.
“We know he can score when he gets it going, but the 10 rebounds and the six assists, we needed them all,” interim Wolves coach Sam Mitchell said. “He got some big rebounds. He made some great passes to some open guys.”
Ricky Rubio added 12 points, eight assists and seven rebounds for the Wolves.
Rondo was suspended for one game last week after a run-in with Kennedy. It was later revealed that Rondo used a gay slur toward Kennedy, who announced he was gay on Monday. Rondo was criticized for an initial statement that said he did not mean to offend with his remarks and he later issued a stronger apology, saying he was “truly sorry for what I said to Bill.”
It remains unclear if Rondo knew that Kennedy was gay when he used the slur.
“I don’t read papers, articles, Instagram, anything like that,” Rondo said when asked about the criticism.
Rondo heard a few boos from the sparse Target Center crowd when he was introduced, but those subsided fairly quickly.
He had to leave the game for a spell in the first half after getting whacked in the face and taking six stitches over his right eye but recorded his 15th double-double this season.
The third-year forward has been frustrated at times with his sporadic playing time. He played a season-high 27 minutes against the Kings and Mitchell said his last two games he has been “outstanding.”
“I definitely felt comfortable playing the amount of minutes I played tonight,” Muhammad said. “I thought I really helped my team win and that’s something I want to try to do all year.”
Kings: Karl flew to Minnesota on a game day to attend the funeral for Timberwolves president and coach Flip Saunders, who died Oct. 25 from Hodgkins lymphoma. “As a cancer survivor, it’s sad to see someone succumb to it,” Karl said. “I think we’ll feel that (melancholy) all year long.”
Timberwolves: Kevin Martin played after missing the game on Wednesday in New York with a bruised right wrist. He had two points in 15 minutes. … Mitchell started veteran SF Tayshaun Prince for a second straight game in search of better defense.
Kings: Visit Toronto Sunday.
Timberwolves: Visit Brooklyn Sunday.