SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP)—For one of few times this season, the Minnesota Timberwolves had a legitimate reason to smile and laugh following a road game.
Kevin Martin scored a career-high 48 points and set the Kings’ Sacramento record for free throws made by hitting 22 of 24.
Despite Martin’s record evening, the night belonged to the Timberwolves, who picked up only their third road victory all season.
“It’s been a tough year on the road and at home,” said Minnesota point guard Randy Foye, who had five of the team’s 25 assists. “Tomorrow we’ll try to get another one in Southern Califorinia against (the Clippers). That was the best we moved the ball all year, especially on the road. Sometimes when you play before a hostile crowd it gets you out of your game.”
Yet, even in the fourth quarter when Martin scored 19 points and was trying to single-handedly rally the Kings, the Timberwolves stayed poised and maintained the lead.
Rashad McCants scored 22 points for Minnesota, which took the lead in the second quarter and never relinquished it against a Kings team that has allowed 100 or more points in 10 straight games.
“We’ve got to go back to playing hard, whoever is playing on the court for us,” Martin said. “We’ve got to find some chemistry and go with it. It was definitely a night I would like to trade for a team win.”
A young team that has nine players with three years or fewer experience, Minnesota owns the NBA’s worst road record this season at 3-26. Earlier this year, the Timberwolves suffered through a 16-game losing streak and their last win away from home came Jan. 21 against Golden State.
“It does not matter if we won at home or on the road,” Minnesota coach Randy Wittman said. “We had about as good a practice (Thursday) as we have had all year. We worked on moving the ball, sharing, and making plays for teammates. The way we played was great. We won this game yesterday at practice.”
Craig Smith, a second-year player from Boston College, made all four shots and scored 10 early points in the fourth quarter to help Minnesota maintain a double-digit lead.
The uninspired Kings couldn’t get closer than six points despite the fourth-quarter effort from Martin, who finished 12-for-23 from the field and had six rebounds.
Ironically, earlier this week Martin was outscored 17-1 by Kobe Bryant in a game where the Kings squandered a fourth-quarter lead.
John Salmons had 15 points and seven rebounds for the Kings, who have lost three straight and seven of eight. Beno Udrih had 13 points and seven assists. Normally reliable center Brad Miller was scoreless in 25 minutes.
“We have a couple of guys around here who aren’t playing hard anymore, that’s too bad, that’s very disappointing,” Kings coach Reggie Theus said.
Smith finished with 18 points in 15 minutes, shooting 8-for-9 from the field. Ryan Gomes added 17 points for the Timberwolves.
“We had a good practice yesterday and really got after it,” Smith said. “Tonight guys were out there sharing the ball, that’s the same thing we did at practice.”
Ron Artest was a late scratch for the Kings for a second straight game due to a sore right foot. Artest, who was fined earlier this week for comments “detrimental” to the team, sat on the bench in street clothes.
Showing no effect from a sore right thumb that caused him to miss Wednesday’s games against the Clippers, Martin scored 10 first-quarter points and had 22 by halftime. ^Notes: Reserve guard Anthony Johnson made his first 3-pointer in his 10th game since joining the Kings in the Mike Bibby trade. He had 26 threes in 50 games with Atlanta. Lost in the Wolves’ youth movement, veteran Antoine Walker didn’t play for the ninth straight game and is reportedly trying to arrange a buyout. Traded by San Antonio in the preseason, Udrih lasted two days with Minnesota, before being waived and picked up by the Kings on Nov. 1. Referee Derrick Collins was poked in the eye during the opening half and did not work the final two quarters.