Buckle up.

This is going to be a wild ride.

The Wolves' season is just one game old and already it sure looks likes the next six months are going to be a tale of talent, personalities, youthful will and egos.

The butting of heads has already started, and Jonny Flynn still has just barely taken the practice court.

Tonight, the Wolves lost their season opener to a Kings team playing without suspended star Tyreke Evans and....

They head toward a stretch where, after Friday's home game against Milwaukee, they play six of their next seven games on the road, including games at Miami, Orlando, Houston and the LA Lakers.

Tonight, they showed glimpses of offensive marvel, including a couple of pulse-pumpnig athletic moves by rookie Wes Johnson and his not-yet-healed hamstring.

And so many things they did right defensively in preseason, they did wrong tonight at Target Center.

So much so that Kurt Rambis turned to a makeshift collection of starters and reserves he considered defensive-minded with the game on the line in the fourth quarter.

That group did not include Kevin Love.

The team's best player -- OK, that's my opinion, and maybe yours, too -- didn't play in the final eight-plus minutes while Rambis turned toward backup power forward Anthony Tolliver (and, strangely, Michael Beasley, too) because of his defense that included this stat line: four blocks (three of them in the fourth quarter), seven rebounds and 14 points.

Tolliver worked his tail off tonighit, and one of those four blocks was a gorgeous stuff at the rim after Donte Greene had blwon by Beasley and was headed for a dunk with a little more than eight minutes left in the game.

Rambis explains his thinking in tonight's game story -- .

Included in his postgame media address was a little exchange after I asked him about sitting "arguably" his best player.

Other stuff from tonight:

* Just from a first impression...the Wolves' decision last summer to take Wes Johnson over Kentucky center DeMarcus Cousins doesn't look like it'll turn into one of those Roy-Foye things.

For starters, Johnson and Cousins don't rhyme.

For another, Johnson's going to excite Wolves fans for a long time. You saw a glimpse of it tonight when he went right over the top of a Kings player (IĀ believe it was Luther Head) for a slam dunk that awoke the home crowd in the second quarter. He also made a couple nice moves putting the ball on the floor and getting to the basket, which is one of the question marks about him.

He provided a couple other plays that made the hometown fans all atwitter, but also showed his opening-night rookie nerves by stumbling, bumbling and fumbling the ball away a couple of times.

Check out the Rambis quote at the end of tonight's game story.

* It'll be interesting to see how Johnson's hamstring feels when he wakes up Thursday morning.

* The Kings are powerful and surly up front and their physical nature got Darko and big Pek in early foul trouble. Carl Landry also had his way with Love (and Tolliver pretty much, too), which resulted in Rambis' fourth-quarter decisions.

Cousins had an uneven night, but showed flashes that he certainly could become a beast in this league: He went for 14 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists and 5 fouls.

The guy can move, he can pass and he plays with a mean streak.

* The Kings got to the foul line 47 times, the Wolves 28.

* Corey Brewer just looks more and more like he's going to get lost among a group of wing players that's even missing Martell Webster for the next six weeks. He played 15 minutes and scored two points.

* Luke Ridnour continues to impress. He led all Wolves scorers with 20 points and had six assists (so did Sebastian Telfair, too) and was their offensive force early on with nine first-quarter points.

* Darko picked up a fourth-quarter technical for swatting the ball toward the scorer's table after he blocked a shot and play had stopped. Yes, you can say they lost by a point and that technical was it, but...that's nonsense in a game like this that had 17 lead changes and saw the Kings rally from a nine-point deficit in the first half's final minute with a 21-5 run that included a 16-2 burst to start the third quarter.

* There also was that failed one-handed tip attempt by Darko late in the game when he was all alone and could have grabbed it with both hands.

* For those who badly wanted the Wolves to draft both Cousins andĀ  Hassan Whiteside...the big former Marshall center played just 1:45 and the only stats that showed up in his boxscore line was two fouls.

* The Kings also played without injured center Samuel Dalembert tonight.

Well, that's it for tonight.

I need some sleep.

The Wolves probably do, too.

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No controversy, Rambis and Love insist

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