It’s just one loss, but …
The Kings didn’t show up Monday night in Minnesota, and were embarrassed by the Timberwolves by a final of 132-105.
“They won the jump ball, got up 14-4, that was the game,” coach Dave Joerger started his postgame press conference. “Any questions?”
With the game going sideways, Joerger made the decision to go away from most of his regulars. De’Aaron Fox, Nemanja Bjelica and Willie Cauley-Stein did not play after the first quarter. Bogdan Bogdanovic played just 10 minutes, as Joerger conceded the game early.
“We got off to a slow start and I just didn’t feel like putting those guys back in - it wasn’t going to be worth it,” Joerger said.
The Kings are a little beat up. Iman Shumpert missed the game due to a personal issue and rookie big man Marvin Bagley III is out of action with a knee injury. The starters have also been asked to play major minutes at incredible pace.
Sacramento recalled two-way player Troy Williams from the G League, and added him to the roster before the game to give Joerger's rotation another body.
From the sound of things, Joerger might have even considered resting players coming into the night. The Kings were playing the second night of a back-to-back, and it was their third game in four nights in three different cities.
“We’ve got to be better in back-to-backs,” Joerger said. “This is about our fourth one where we’re playing a team that’s rested.”
Joerger was off by one. The Kings have played six sets of back-to-backs on the season. In five of those sets, the team Sacramento played on the second night was coming in rested.
“That’s one thing we’re working on as a young team, learning how to play in back-to-backs, you know, finding that energy from somewhere,” forward Skal Labissiere told reporters in Minnesota. “We’ve been struggling with that the whole year.”
Joerger went deep into his bench, playing all eight of his reserves more than 17 minutes apiece. Labissiere, who had played a total of 40 minutes over seven games this season, posted nine points and five rebounds in 29 minutes.
“I’ve been staying ready since the season started, whenever I saw that my role went down,” Labissiere said. “So I’ve just been working. Just stay on the grind and do what I can do.”
Williams, Yogi Ferrell, Frank Mason, Justin Jackson and Harry Giles all put up numbers in their opportunity. Ben McLemore played as well, but struggled to find a rhythm after sitting most of the year.
“I’m happy that the guys stayed ready to play,” Joerger said of his reserves. “Because everybody has a role on a roster in the NBA and you’re going to have some nights like these. I commend those guys for going out there, being professional, playing hard and taking the minutes.”
Joerger’s first team dug a huge hole. They lacked energy from the opening tip. In the second half, the Kings coach turned to an entire unit of reserves. They responded with a 21-1 run that cut the Timberwolves lead to 12, but the game slipped away quickly after that.
The Kings flew home after the game. They should be well rested when they host the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday evening at Golden 1 Center.