Chase Budinger makes his return, but Wolves fall short in Sacramento
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SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Isaiah Thomas had 24 points and six assists, Tyreke Evans scored 11 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter Thursday night and the Sacramento Kings earned their third straight home win, holding off the slumping Minnesota Timberwolves 101-98.
The Kings are 6-5 over the last three weeks and their 19 home wins are the most over the previous three seasons.
Nikola Pekovic had 18 points and 12 rebounds for the Timberwolves, who have lost two straight and four of five. Injury-plagued Minnesota has dropped 21 of 28 games since Jan. 8. The Timberwolves have lost nine straight and 17 of 18 on the road.
The Kings survived a miscue at the end when they were leading by three points and Evans turned the ball over on a poor pass after penetrating to the basket. Cunningham missed a 3-point attempt on the other end with 1 second left that would have sent the game to overtime.
DeMarcus Cousins had 15 points and 14 rebounds for Sacramento. John Salmons scored 13 and Patrick Patterson added 11.
Rubio made a jumper and hit four free throws to cut the Kings' lead to 99-97, but Evans ended a Kings drought of three-plus minutes with a basket, giving Sacramento a 101-97 lead with 41 seconds remaining.
There was also news off the court for the Kings on Thursday. Mark Mastrov and Ron Burkle have brought Vivek Ranadive aboard in a move that should strengthen their bid to keep the team in Sacramento.
Ranadive, the chairman and chief executive of TIBCO Software in Palo Alto, Calif., appears to be the new leader in the bid to buy the team. Ranadive also is a limited partner and vice chairman of the Golden State Warriors. He would have to sell his share of the Warriors if he became an owner with the Kings.
Sacramento is trying to keep the team and prevent it from being sold to a Seattle group headed by hedge-fund manager Chris Hansen and Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer.
The NBA board of governors is expected to vote in mid-April on the fate of the Kings.
Chase Budinger played for the first time since tearing the meniscus in his left knee in Nov. 10 against Chicago. Budinger was playing in only his seventh game this season and finished with nine points in 18 minutes.
Evans scored seven straight points for the Kings, including a three-point play midway through the fourth quarter. He found Cole Aldrich for a basket the next time down the court to give the Kings a 95-87 lead.
Thomas enjoyed a big first half and continued to give Minnesota trouble in the third quarter. The feisty point guard scored eight points and so did Evans to give Sacramento a 79-77 lead heading into the fourth.
Trailing since early in the second quarter, the Kings took the lead in the third quarter on a dunk by Cousins at the 3:02 mark. The Kings trailed by four points at the half, but outscored the Timberwolves 26-20 in the third quarter.
Pekovic got off to a fast start, scoring 11 points in the first quarter and 13 by halftime in helping the Timberwolves to a 57-53 lead. Thomas had 14 points and Patterson added 11 for the Kings.
Luke Ridnour is the only player on the Minnesota roster not to miss a game this season. ... Minnesota coach Rick Adelman guided the Kings for eight seasons and the team had a winning record and made the playoffs every year. The Kings haven't had a winning season or gone to the playoffs since he was fired after the 2005-06 season. . Kings reserve center James Johnson missed his fourth straight game due to personal reasons. . Rubio scored only two first-half points, but had six assists and five rebounds.© The Associated Press