DeMarcus Cousins is a large man who Kevin Love can’t guard alone. Surprisingly enough, he’s never been the issue when playing against the Kings. It always seems to be their guards that are relentlessly hurtful. And this time it wasn’t even Tyreke Evans who did the damage.
It was the combined effort of Isaiah Thomas and Marcus Thornton that led the Kings to a sure victory over the tiresome and emotionless-looking Wolves.
A team with quick, jolting guards like the Kings was the last thing the Wolves wanted to see tonight. The energy is obviously drained as the overdrawn road trip continues to wear down on the Wolves, and it really showed tonight. Luke Ridnour and JJ Barea were both greatly out-hustled by Thomas and Thornton all game long. Thomas, in particular, shined by mucking it up on both sides of the ball. He continually drove the middle of the lane forcing the Wolves defenders to scramble. And even when he didn’t have the drive, he was able to spot up and hit the three when needed. Thornton was the exact same way, only he utilized his strength instead of quickness to get through hand checks in the lane, and with no shot-blocking presence in the paint, was able to nail easy floaters.
The Wolves were coaxed into playing the Kings’ game. Part of it was due to the absence of Nikola Pekovic, who sat with a stubborn, sore ankle. Since the Wolves weren’t able to run their offense and establish their pace of play through Pekovic and the pick ‘n’ roll, the Kings forced the Wolves into poor decisions, which led to 21 turnovers. Then they turned those turnovers into 29 points by getting out into the open court, spacing out the Wolves porous defense and making the play at the other end.
Plain and simple, the Kings played what I thought was a perfect game. The Wolves couldn’t muster up any type of run without it being halted quickly by the Kings’ speed and athleticism.
This and tomorrow night’s games were essentially must-wins. As I noted before, the Wolves are really tired. You can see it on all of their faces, and if Pekovic isn’t able to give it a go tomorrow night and if Beasley’s not able to shake off his sore toe — A toe? Really? — then even tomorrow night will be difficult. Just because the stretch is getting hard is no reason to disappear. Other teams are starting to leapfrog the Wolves in the standings, and the chance at a playoff berth is slowly diminishing thanks to this stint.
Next up comes a tilt against the Warriors of the Bay. Take a breather and try to start fresh. This is a must win for sure.