SACRAMENTO KINGS

Malik Monk, Kings outlast Timberwolves in OT thriller

Mar 1, 2024, 8:10 PM | Updated: 8:19 pm

MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE - JANUARY 29: Malik Monk #0 of the Sacramento Kings looks on during the game aga...

(Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images)

(Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images)

With six weeks remaining in the NBA’s 2023-24 regular season, teams in the playoff hunt can’t let wounds fester.

For the Sacramento Kings, a team in a battle with several other postseason hopefuls, it was imperative to halt a two-game skid as those around them in the standings continued to pick up steam.

Facing the Western Conference’s top team without the services of De’Aaron Fox (left knee contusion), the odds were stacked against them on Friday night—and it didn’t matter.

Thanks to a monstrous closing performance from Malik Monk, Sacramento secured a much-needed overtime win in the form of a 124-120 triumph over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

It wasn’t easy, but the Kings (34-25) did enough to finish their brief road trip on a high note before heading home, where they will play 15 of their final 23 games at Golden 1 Center.

With the win, Sacramento also jumped from eighth to seventh in the West standings, as they now sit just one game behind the fifth-seed Phoenix Suns.

Kings vs. Timberwolves Recap & Takeaways

With De’Aaron Fox (left knee contusion) being ruled out shortly before tip-off, it wouldn’t have been surprising to see Sacramento open Friday’s game on a sour note. That didn’t happen.

As was the case during Wednesday’s loss in Denver, the Kings put the pressure on Minnesota early by starting the night on a 20-6 run. Domantas Sabonis, who scored just 13 points in the loss to the Nuggets, scored 12 points in the first quarter alone as Sacramento jumped out to a 30-22 lead heading into the second quarter.

In Denver, the second quarter spelled the beginning of the end for the Kings, as the Nuggets outscored Sacramento 37-20 in the period. This time, the Kings would see another double-digit lead slip through their fingers as the Timberwolves offense came alive in the second.

Minnesota shot 67 percent from the field during the second quarter to erase the deficit, and while Sacramento struggled to contain the T-Wolves on offense, they hit a brick wall at the free-throw line (seven-of-14 during the first half).

Harrison Barnes’ buzzer-beating triple gave the Kings a slim one-point edge heading into the second half, but Sacramento would need more from players not named Sabonis (17 first-half points) and Davion Mitchell (12 points) if they wanted to steal a win from the top-seed in the West.

Malik Monk takes over

Malik Monk entered play averaging 12.2 points per game on 38 percent shooting from the field over his past four games. Through two quarters of play, the Sixth Man of the Year candidate struggled to a two-for-seven start on Friday night, but the guard turned the page in the second half.

Monk helped create separation from the T-Wolves in the third by scoring 11 points in the period, while Sacramento’s defense held the Timberwolves in check on the other end of the floor. The Kings entered the fourth holding a 91-82 lead, but it’s never easy for Sacramento. Never. Easy.

Minnesota mounted a quick 11-2 run to open up the final period and tie things up a 93 apiece, and from there, these two teams traded leads throughout the final ten minutes of regulation.

Sacramento’s offense ran solely through Monk, who scored 18 points during the fourth quarter while defended by T-Wolves stopper Jaden McDaniels. While the Kings had a chance to win the game late, Monk’s deep triple came up short as this game was sent into overtime.

In overtime, Sacramento was put behind the eight-ball as Sabonis picked up his sixth and final foul early, but Monk would get the last laugh in this one as the guard knocked down back-to-back triples to give the Kings the lead for good.

In possession of a 123-120 lead with less than two minutes to go, Sacramento’s defense came up big as the Timberwolves wouldn’t score again for the remainder of the game. While the Kings were unable to knock down free throws during the final seconds (they finished the night 13/24, 54% as a team), Monk’s late-game heroics were enough to secure the win.

The loss of Fox came at an unideal time for Sacramento as they navigate the playoff race, but Monk’s ability to take games over mirrors his college teammate. That’s the type of impact that the Kings needed on Friday against the NBA’s best defense, and now they will head home with their sights on solidifying themselves as a top-six team in the West.

Who’s Hot?

Malik Monk became the first NBA bench player to score 35+ points in multiple games this season as the guard finished the night with 39 points (35 in the second half) on 16-of-29 shooting from the field and five-of-eight from three-point range.

Domantas Sabonis posted his 42nd straight double-double before fouling out in overtime: 21 PTS | 15 REB | 8 AST | 3 BLK

Keon Ellis was productive in a starting role, swiping a career-high four steals to go along with a career-high tying seven assists over 19 minutes.

Davion Mitchell added 16 points on seven-of-eight shooting on Friday night in what was one of the guard’s strongest showings of the season.

Notes

  • Sacramento outscored Minnesota in the paint 68-54 on Friday. The T-Wolves entered the night having held opponents to 45.5 paint points per game this season (2nd in the NBA).

Injury Update

De’Aaron Fox was ruled out of Friday’s action due to a left knee contusion that was suffered during the Kings’ loss to the Miami Heat. Fox, who has missed two consecutive games, is considered day-to-day.

When is the next Sacramento Kings game?

Sacramento will return to Northern California as they begin a home-heavy stretch of their schedule on Monday night against the Chicago Bulls.

The Kings will play 15 of their final 23 games at Golden 1 Center, including seven of their next eight on their home floor.

Be sure to tune in right here on Sactown Sports 1140 for all of your Kings vs. Bulls coverage, beginning at 5:30 PM PST on Game Night before a 7:00 PM PST tip-off from downtown Sacramento.

Upcoming Schedule

  • Monday, March 4th – Sacramento Kings vs. Chicago Bulls – 7:00 PM PST
  • Wednesday, March 6th – Sacramento Kings @ Los Angeles Lakers – 7:30 PM PST
  • Thursday, March 7th – Sacramento Kings vs. San Antonio Spurs – 7:00 PM PST
  • Sunday, March 10th – Sacramento Kings vs. Houston Rockets – 3:00 PM PST
  • Tuesday, March 12th – Sacramento Kings vs. Milwaukee Bucks – 7:00 PM PST

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