Full of energy, Wolves are strong out of gate in victory over Kings

  • Article by: JERRY ZGODA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 3, 2012 - 9:09 AM

Thanks to excellent play from reserves, the Wolves built a big lead and came back after giving it away.

Opening the season without both of his young stars for the foreseeable future, Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman went searching for energy more than anything else Friday night at Target Center.

He found it in both some usual and unexpected places during a 92-80 victory over the Sacramento Kings before an announced sellout audience.

Adelman chose to fill injured Kevin Love's power forward spot with Derrick Williams because he wanted Dante Cunningham's relentlessness off the bench.

He found far more than that during an opener in which the Wolves led by 18 points late in the second quarter, trailed by five midway through the third and prevailed anyway against a Kings team that opened its season Wednesday by losing at Chicago.

The Wolves bench outscored Sacramento's 46-28 thanks to bubbly performances from Cunningham, J.J. Barea and Greg Stiemsma, and as the Wolves did in their final two preseason games, they once again held the opponent to fewer than 20 points in a quarter.

This time, it was the Kings' 15-point fourth quarter that won the game for the Wolves, even though the home team shot only 36.8 percent from the floor and made only two of 17 three-point attempts.

"We were good defensively pretty much the whole night," Adelman said. "Offensively, we have a long way to go."

Without Rubio and Love, the Wolves are still searching to discover who can win games for them when it matters most, and how.

On Friday, starters Brandon Roy and Nikola Pekovic and reserve Chase Budinger all provided important fourth-quarter baskets, even though those three players combined to shoot 9-for-32. The Wolves made up for poor shooting in part by making 26 of 36 free throws, while Sacramento took only 16 attempts from the line.

"That was a good win," said Roy, who hadn't played a real NBA game since the 2011 playoffs with the Portland Trail Blazers. "I hadn't won a game in a long time, so it was good to get the first one out of the way."

Fellow newcomer Andrei Kirilenko provided a familiar stat line -- 10 points, seven rebounds, five assists, a block -- and timely defense all night, particularly in the fourth quarter, and Cunningham, Barea and Stiemsma all delivered that aforementioned energy just when it seemed like all was about to slip away.

"This team is deep enough, we've got multiple guys who can come off the bench, bring energy, do different things," said Stiemsma, who proved to be one of them with a nine points, seven rebounds and four blocks in 16 efficient minutes. "I don't think we lose a whole lot when we go to our bench."

The Wolves built that 18-point lead thanks in good part to that bench and Barea's 21-point night. The Kings changed the game with a 31-9 run that ended the first half and started the second, but the Wolves turned the game right back around with a 14-3 burst of their own just when big Sacramento center DeMarcus Cousins left the game following his fifth foul midway through the third quarter.

Through it all, Barea looked fit and fearless, like the NBA champion player they thought they had signed to a four-year contract before last season.

"I don't want to talk about it, but I feel great," said Barea, who looks noticeably leaner compared to last season's start. "I felt great in practice, great in warm-ups. I'm feeling good, so I was excited to get out there. I got a season under belt with this coach. I know what he wants, but I got to play my game. I have to be aggressive."

  • 2012-13 SEASON OPENER WOLVES 92, SACRAMENTO 80

    Up next: 5 p.m. Sunday at Toronto • TV: FSN (830-AM)

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Houston 1 FINAL
Miami 1
Philadelphia 1 FINAL
Minnesota 7
St. Louis 3 FINAL
Detroit 4
Baltimore - WP: T. Wilson 10 FINAL
NY Yankees - LP: S. Baker 2
Boston 9 FINAL
Tampa Bay 6
Toronto 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh 8
Atlanta 5 FINAL
Toronto 3
Washington 2 FINAL
NY Mets 10
Chicago Cubs 5 FINAL
Cincinnati 9
San Diego 3 FINAL
Texas 2
San Francisco 9 FINAL
Seattle 8
Colorado 4 FINAL
Chicago Cubs 18
Cleveland 3 FINAL
Milwaukee 2
Oakland 10 FINAL
Chicago WSox 4
Los Angeles 5 FINAL
LA Angels 4
Kansas City 10 FINAL
Arizona 5
Atlanta 100 FINAL
Charlotte 115
New York 80 FINAL
Chicago 111
Golden State 108 FINAL
Milwaukee 95
Oklahoma City 89 FINAL
Utah 94
Denver 84 4th Qtr 10:24
Portland 88
Nashville 4 FINAL
Washington 3
Arizona 2 FINAL
Pittsburgh 3
San Jose 3 FINAL(SO)
Philadelphia 2
Anaheim 3 FINAL
NY Islanders 2
NY Rangers 2 FINAL
Boston 4
Tampa Bay 0 FINAL
Detroit 4
New Jersey 1 FINAL
Carolina 3
Florida 2 FINAL(OT)
Montreal 3
Ottawa 3 FINAL(OT)
Toronto 4
Los Angeles 1 FINAL
Minnesota 4
Columbus 4 FINAL
St. Louis 2
Buffalo 3 FINAL
Colorado 5
Dallas 1 3rd Prd
Vancouver 2
Arizona 78 FINAL
Wisconsin 85
Canisius 73 FINAL
NJIT 78
Notre Dame 66 FINAL
Kentucky 68
San Jose 1 FINAL
New England 2
Orlando City 2 FINAL
Montreal 2
Los Angeles 0 FINAL
D.C. 1
Sporting Kansas City 1 FINAL
New York City 0
Red Bull New York 2 FINAL
Columbus 1
Portland 1 FINAL
Vancouver FC 2
Colorado 0 FINAL
Houston 0
Seattle 0 FINAL
FC Dallas 0
Texas 54 FINAL
(1) Connecticut 105
Dayton 82 FINAL
(8) Louisville 66
(16) Duke 55 FINAL
(4) Maryland 65
Gonzaga 69 FINAL
(6) Tennessee 73
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: What are you following most closely right now?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close