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Cousins, Kings survive close one in Minnesota

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Rudy Gay had 21 points, six rebounds and five assists, and the struggling Sacramento Kings handed the Minnesota Timberwolves their 10th straight loss with a 110-107 victory on Thursday night.

DeMarcus Cousins had 19 points and seven rebounds after being ejected one night earlier, and the Kings shot 54 percent while each of their starters scored in double figures. Darren Collison scored 21 points and Derrick Williams had 17 points, including a big 3-pointer down the stretch.

Andrew Wiggins had 27 points and nine rebounds, but the Timberwolves couldn’t take advantage when Cousins and Gay both fouled out in the fourth quarter. Troy Daniels’ 3-point attempt at the buzzer was partially blocked.

Gorgui Dieng added 15 points and 10 rebounds for Minnesota, and Shabazz Muhammad also scored 15.

The Kings were one of the feel-good stories of the first month of the season, with coach Michael Malone instilling a new commitment to defense and getting Cousins to harness his hair-trigger temper while they put together a 9-5 start. But Cousins was sidelined with meningitis and Malone was surprisingly fired on Dec. 15.

Sacramento was just 2-6 in its first eight games without Malone, including a 22-point loss in Boston on Wednesday in which Cousins was ejected after tussling with Celtics rookie Marcus Smart.

A loss to the lowly Timberwolves (5-26) may have been rock bottom, especially with how Sacramento was humming on offense early.

The Kings hit 78 percent of their shots in a 37-point first quarter, but led by a modest eight points thanks to six turnovers and allowing the Wolves to shoot 57 percent themselves.

Sacramento led 81-68 midway through the third quarter, but Gay fouled out with 4:21 to play and Cousins picked up his sixth less than two minutes later.

Wiggins scored on a drive and a spin move and Thaddeus Young hit two free throws to tie it at 99 with four minutes to go.

Then Williams, the former Timberwolves No. 2 overall pick, responded with a 3-pointer that put Sacramento up for good.

TIP-INS

Kings: Gay committed a career-high eight of Sacramento’s 20 turnovers. … F Omri Casspi did not play because of a knee injury and PG Ramon Sessions missed his fifth straight game with a strained lower back. … After starting the first 31 games of the year, F Jason Thompson did not play on Wednesday against Boston and came off the bench against Minnesota. … Tyrone Corbin coached with a walking boot on his left leg after he tore an Achilles in practice earlier in the week.

Timberwolves: Coach Flip Saunders said C Nikola Pekovic will get an MRI on his right ankle next week. If it comes back clear, he could start some light contact work in practice. … Minnesota’s 36 points in the paint in the first half was its highest total for a half this season.

UP NEXT

Kings: Visit Detroit on Sunday.

Timberwolves: Host Utah on Saturday.

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