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Derrick Williams, right, works off the dribble against the Minnesota Timberwolves' Alexey Shved at the Target Center in Minneapolis on Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014.

Kyndell Harkness, MCT - MCT

Williams finding more freedom in Kings' style

  • Article by: Jerry Zgoda
  • Star Tribune
  • January 16, 2014 - 7:16 AM

Former Timberwolves forward Derrick Williams shuddered at the winter’s cold when he got off the Sacramento Kings’ plane late Tuesday night after a loss in Indiana, but he sure warmed up inside Target Center, his basketball home for his first two-plus NBA seasons.

Williams was greeted with a smattering of polite applause when he entered Wednesday’s game against his former team late in the first quarter and quickly went to work, showing a Minnesota crowd the stuff it had too seldom seen before the former No. 2 overall pick was traded to Sacramento in late November for veteran forward Luc Mbah a Moute.

Williams scored 16 points on 7-for-11 shooting in 28 minutes off the bench, pushing the ball full-court by himself and scoring on a couple of soaring dunks. He made a power post-up move on Wolves guard Alexey Shved for a two-handed slam that left Wolves fans asking themselves where he’d been for so long.

“You want to play well when you come back,” he said after the Kings’ 111-108 victory. “I know I had the pressure on myself.”

Williams is finding in Sacramento what he couldn’t with the Wolves this season, consistent playing time: He is averaging 25 minutes and 9.5 points a game on 49 percent shooting coming off the bench behind starting forwards Rudy Gay and Jason Thompson.

“Just a different style of offense, different philosophies,” he said, comparing Wolves veteran coach Rick Adelman and Kings rookie coach Mike Malone. “It fits my game a little more. I feel a little freer out there on the court.”

Take a seat

Wolves starting guards Ricky Rubio and Kevin Martin were benched for the entire fourth quarter after coach Rick Adelman turned to reserves Shved and J.J. Barea, who helped play the Wolves back into the game down the stretch.

“We were happy because we were making a run, but of course you’re frustrated because you’re not playing,” Rubio said after recording five points, five assists and five turnovers. “You always want to play. … I couldn’t find a rhythm. I couldn’t find my teammates, either. Too many turnovers. I have to step up my game. I’m working. I’m working to find myself again.”

Said Martin when asked if it’s tough to sit and watch: “Not at all. Guys were playing good. I stand by my coach’s decision.”

No excuse

Could the Wolves possibly have seen the Kings’ 13-23 record and overlooked their opponent?

“It’s not overlooking, trust me,” Adelman said. “Why are we overlooking anybody? We’re under .500 [now 18-20]. They had beaten Miami, Portland, Phoenix twice. What would give us the right to overlook them? To me, that’s not even an excuse. If they are, there’s something wrong.”

Etc.

• Wolves star Kevin Love used Wednesday’s mostly lifeless performance to audition further as a corporate spokesman. “I can’t tell you, I don’t know if we all need to take different energy shots or Red Bulls or what else I can plug,” he said. “It’s not just one guy in particular. It’s all of us.”

• With all 15 players now healthy, the Wolves made Robbie Hummel and A.J. Price their two inactive players.

• Kings rookie guard Ben McLemore left early in the second quarter because of a sprained left ankle.

© 2014 Star Tribune