Kings tame Timberwolves

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Last year, the Sacramento Kings got a name for allowing too many points. But after shutting down the Minnesota Timberwolves at their season opener on Saturday, they could not stop crowing about their defense.

Last year, the Sacramento Kings got a name for allowing too many points. But after shutting down the Minnesota Timberwolves at their season opener on Saturday, they could not stop crowing about their defense.

"I think we did a good job defensively," said coach Rick Adelman. "When we pushed the ball and gote Tokyo Dome, beating the Timberwolves 100-95 with nine three-pointers - five of them by top-scoring guard Nick Anderson.

The Kings - the only team in the NBA last year to average 100 points a game - started off true to their explosive reputation, with guard Jason Williams launching a full court pass and back-to-back three pointers - hitting the first, missing the second.

Sacramento also got a dramatic boost from Anderson, who was acquired from Orlando in August. The guard hit five of seven three-point shots, including three consecutive shots in the third quarter alone. He led the team with 17 points.

The tough Sacramento defense - the Kings had 40 defensive rebounds to the Timberwolves' 38 - couldn't shut down Minnesota's top player, Kevin Garnett. The star forward was the game's top scorer with 34 points. He also led the game with 17 rebounds.

Defense has been a sour point with the Kings. Last year, their powerful style made them the only NBA team to average 100 points a game. But they also allowed more points than they scored.

That was on their minds when they took the court on Saturday.

"We wanted to play solid defense," said Anderson.

The Kings were ahead most of the game, but the Timberwolves were never far behind. After Sacramento jumped out at the start of the game, Garnett put Minnesota back into it with a three-pointer halfway through the first quarter, which ended with the Timberwolves ahead 29-28.

Though Garnett continued to deliver, the Wolves slowed down in the next quarter and the Kings took the lead - for good. Anderson gave the Kings their spark in the third quarter, hitting three straight three-pointers and grabbing four rebounds.

"We shot the ball terribly," Garnett said. "We'll be a different team tomorrow for sure. What we lacked was focus."

This is the fifth year the NBA has held season opening games in Japan. The first Japan Games series was between the Pheonix Suns and Utah Jazz in 1990. Because of their popularity with the Japanese fans, the games were moved to the Tokyo Dome from a smaller venue in 1996.

"The fact that the league picked us to come shows that people like to watch us play," said Kings' coach Rick Adelman. "There are a lot of expectations."

Saturday's game was played before a sell-out crowd of 32,623.

Notes: The Kings were chosen as the home team for Saturday's game. The Timberwolves will be the host on Sunday. ... Though the Tokyo Dome can seat about 60,000 for baseball games, it was configured to hold just over 32,000 for this weekend's games. ... True to Tokyo's reputation as one of the world's most pricey cities, the best seats in the house went for 40,000 yen (nearly $400). Most were full.

Comments