SACRAMENTO -- Guard Tyreke Evans' late aggressiveness proved crucial Thursday as the Sacramento Kings held off the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Evans, who sank a key basket in the final minute, contributed 21 points, five rebounds and five assists in the Kings' 101-98 win at Sleep Train Arena.
"At some point, he was doing everything, scoring, assisting," Minnesota guard Ricky Rubio said of Evans. "He's a good player. He played amazing. I think the victory is because of him."
Sacramento led 97-87 following a 9-0 run, but the Wolves made a strong run toward the end of the game. Ricky Rubio's two foul shots with 1:36 left sliced the Kings' lead to 99-97.
Kings guard Tyreke Evans drove for a score with 41 seconds left to extend the advantage to four points. Rubio missed a 3-point shot, but teammate Nikola Pekovic got the offensive rebound and was fouled.
Pekovic hit one of two free throws, slicing the deficit to three, and the Wolves got a chance to tie when Evans turned the ball over.
Dante Cunningham's long 3-point attempt was off the mark in the final second.
There were a number of difficult-to-explain oddities in the contest. The Kings were outscored 21-0 in second-chance points. Sacramento did shoot 53 percent from the field, but the failure to convert even one offensive rebound into points was surprising.
Minnesota made just one of 19 3-point attempts for a 5.3 percentage that made Sacramento's 33.3 percentage appear scintillating.
The Kings also outscored the Timberwolves 28-13 in fast-break points.
Having power forward Kevin Love would help Minnesota's inside ability. However, Love only is working out before games as he attempts to come back from a broken hand. He's missed 37 games.
Even without him, Minnesota held a 45-40 rebounding edge. The Wolves' problem was slowing Evans.
"He just attacked the basket, and we weren't getting in," Minnesota coach Rick Adelman said. "We have to get in the paint and kick the ball out. We didn't do a consistent job of that."
Evans couldn't explain why he attempted just three shots in the first half. He scored all but two of his points after halftime.
"I just wasn't aggressive," he said. "I was just out there, but in the second half, I wanted to go right at the defense. I hit that one 3-(pointer) and that always gets me going."
Point guard Isaiah Thomas led the Kings (25-44) with 24 points. Center DeMarcus Cousins scored 15 points and grabbed 14 rebounds in just 28 minutes.
Pekovic finished with 18 points and 12 rebounds. Derrick Williams and Cunningham each added 12 points for Minnesota (23-43), and J.J. Barea had 11 points and six assists.
Minnesota led 55-43 with 1:25 left in the second quarter. However, Thomas and Patrick Patterson keyed a 10-2 Kings run that cut Sacramento's halftime deficit to 57-53.
The Kings continued their strong play in the third quarter, shooting 10-for-15 from the field to grab a 79-77 lead heading into the fourth.
NOTES: Minnesota forward Chase Budinger was back in action after missing the previous 59 games with a meniscus tear in his left knee. Budinger produced nine points and four rebounds in 18 minutes. ... Timberwolves forward Andrei Kirilenko, who returned Sunday night after missing the previous nine games, finished with six points and four rebounds in 27 minutes Thursday. ... Minnesota played the middle game of three-game road swing. The Wolves are 7-27 away from home. ... The Kings had made at least nine 3-pointers in three consecutive games before going 6-for-18 Thursday. They have scored 100 or more points in 17 of their past 19 games. ... Adelman was the Kings' head coach for eight seasons. He said he has definite memories about his experience in Sacramento. "It's a shame they might leave," he said. "We had so many very good and entertaining teams. Obviously, they need to get a new building here. The team leaving would be bad for the fans, for the people who work here in and out of the basketball organization." ... Sacramento won its third consecutive home game. ... The game drew an announced crowd of 12,176.