Making his first career start, replacing the injured Nikola
Pekovic, Dieng recorded his first double-double as Minnesota topped
the Sacramento Kings 104-102 at Target Center — officially
eliminating the Kings from playoff contention.
Dieng's 12 points, 11 rebounds, five blocks and 37 minutes played
were all career highs, with the five blocks tying Ronny Turiaf for
most by a Timberwolves player in a game this season.
"Is it fun (not getting minutes)? No," Dieng said. "But I'm never
frustrated. I'm working. And I was just staying ready and I believed
I'd have this chance sooner or later."
Guard Isaiah Thomas paced Sacramento with 27 points, including 13 of
the Kings' last 15 points in the third quarter and two late
3-pointers to keep Sacramento within a possession. He also dished
out seven assists to surpass 1,000 for his career.
Forward Derrick Williams, who was traded to the Kings from Minnesota
in November, scored 26 off the bench and grabbed 11 rebounds for his
most points and first double-double since February 28 against the
Williams is averaging 16 points per game in his three contests
against his former club — 21 in his two games in his former
"Anybody who gets traded wants to play good against the team that
traded them, it's just human nature," Williams said. "I just wanted
to be aggressive."
Sacramento, in its final contest of a seven-game road trip, fell to
0-10 this season without center DeMarcus Cousins, who was scratched
due to right knee tendinitis.
"We didn't have our big guy playing either," Wolves coach Rick
Adelman said. "Maybe they were trying to be fair."
Kings coach Michael Malone said he expects Cousins to return for
Tuesday's game against the Washington Wizards.
"He's been working his butt off the whole year and I wanted to give
these other guys a chance to play and let DeMarcus rest his body
after a really long trip," Malone said.
Minnesota guard Kevin Martin, who played his first six NBA seasons
with Sacramento, hit all 14 of his free throws en route to a
game-high 31 points — his most since scoring 32 against the Los
Angeles Lakers on February 4.
Forward Kevin Love turned in his 43rd 20/10 game with 26 points and
10 rebounds for the Wolves, who won for the third time in their last
four home games to keep their razor-thin chance of a playoff berth
alive. Love also hit three 3-pointers, giving him two or more in 13
straight games — the longest streak in the NBA this season.
[to top of second column]
But it was Dieng, selected 21st overall by the Utah Jazz in the 2013
draft and traded to Minnesota with forward Shabazz Muhammad for
guard Trey Burke, who filled the void left by the ailing Pekovic.
Dieng hadn't played 30 minutes combined in the Wolves' last six
games, but managed to surpass his previous career high by nearly 16
Minnesota also got six key points down the stretch from forward
Robbie Hummel, who sat through the first three quarters before
playing 10 minutes in the fourth.
"It's a league of opportunity," Hummel said. "When your name gets
called you have to be ready to go, whether it's the first quarter or
you've been on the bench for two and a half hours."
The Wolves led by as many as 10 points in the first quarter, but the
lead changed hands 16 times from there as the teams traded runs.
The Kings went ahead 95-94 on Williams' free throws with 1:26 to
play, but Love hit a 3-pointer on Minnesota's next possession and
didn't trail again.
Martin hit six free throws in the final 17 seconds to keep the
Wolves in front, even though Thomas hit 3-pointers on consecutive
All five Minnesota starters finished in double figures, with guard
Ricky Rubio scoring 11 and forward Corey Brewer adding 10. Rubio
also handed out 10 assists.
Forward Rudy Gay also scored in double figures for Sacramento with
NOTES: Minnesota C Nikola Pekovic sat out Sunday due to a sore right
ankle. Pekovic, who played seven games after missing 13 straight due
to bursitis in the ankle, left two minutes into the second half in
Friday's loss to the Charlotte Bobcats and didn't return.
Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman said he wasn't sure how long Pekovic
would remain out. ... Sacramento was also without its starting
center, as DeMarcus Cousins missed the game due to right knee
tendinitis. Sunday marked the first time this season the knee kept
Cousins out of action, but it marked the ninth contest he missed
this season due to injury. Cousins has also missed a game due to
suspension. Aaron Gray made his sixth start of the season in place
of Cousins. ... F Derrick Williams returned to Target Center for the
second time since being traded to Sacramento from Minnesota in
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