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Timberwolves 92, Kings 80

The SportsXchange

MINNEAPOLIS -- If you hung around Target Center long enough last season, you would have heard Minnesota coach Rick Adelman bemoaning his depth, pleading for playmakers.

It appears he has a little more of both this season.

In a 92-80 season-opening victory over visiting Sacramento Friday, the Wolves retooled roster showed improved depth and a bounty of players willing to make the extra pass. They needed both.

Guard J.J. Barea led the Wolves with 21 points off the bench fo Minnesota, which got 46 bench points overall.

But it was the newcomers who the fans came to see. Andrei Kirilenko filled the stat sheet with 10 points, seven rebounds and five assists. Brandon Roy, making his return after a year out of the game, had 10 points and six assists. Chase Budinger and Greg Stiemsma each had nine points.

All that was enough for the Wolves (1-0) to top the Kings (0-2), who had to deal with DeMarcus Cousins being in foul trouble all night long. Up by five entering the fourth quarter, the Wolves never let the Kings back into contention.

Isaiah Thomas had 20, Marcus Thornton had 15, Cousins had 11 and Jason Thompson had 10 for the Kings (0-2), who appeared to take control of the game with a 34-9 run from late in the second quarter and into the third.

But the Wolves' bench helped Minnesota respond with a 14-3 run to retake control of the game.

The Kings got back into the game with a big run. It began in the final four minutes of the second quarter, after Luke Ridnour's finger-roll layup gave the Wolves a 45-27 lead. From then into the third quarter it was all Kings.

Thornton's six points helped the Kings end the second quarter on a 14-5 run. And, in the third quarter, it just kept going.

When Thomas hit a three-pointer after a Wolves turnover, the Kings were up 61-56, and the Wolves were reeling.

Again, it was the bench that got the Wolves going again. With Cousins on the bench with five fouls, Kirilenko started the rally, which included Barea's two free throws, two more from Nikola Pekovic and two baskets by Dante Cunningham. Cunningham's slam with 3:45 left in the quarter gave the Wolves the lead back at 62-61, and that lead grew to 68-61 on Barea's driving layup. The Wolves still led by five entering the fourth quarter.

The Wolves' depth showed in the first half, when they took a 50-41 halftime lead.

Wolves reserves had 21 of those 50 points, with Barea leading the way with 10 on fearless drives to the hoop. In a half in which the Wolves never trailed, the Wolves broke to an 18-8 lead on Kirilenko's dunk midway through the first quarter. The lead remained at 10 entering the second quarter.

Notes: Kings swingman John Salmons returned to his team Thursday after a much longer stay away from the team than originally expected. Salmons was with his wife, Taniesha, in Philadelphia for the birth of the couple's third child. Unfortunately, the baby arrived five days late. Salmons will practice with the team for a spell before returning to the rotation. ... In something of a surprise, Derrick Williams got the start at power forward for the Wolves. Many had expected Cunningham to fill the starting role at power forward until Kevin Love (broken hand) returned.

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