MINNEAPOLIS — Sacramento guard Isaiah Thomas hit 3-pointers on consecutive possessions, but Minnesota guard Kevin Martin made six free throws in the final 30 seconds and the Timberwolves held on for a 104-102 victory on Sunday at the Target Center that officially eliminated the Kings from playoff contention.
Martin, who played his first six NBA season with the Kings, hit all 14 of his free throws en route to a game-high 31 points — the most Martin has scored since he had 32 against the Los Angeles Lakers on Feb. 4.
Minnesota forward Kevin Love turned in his fourth double-double of the season and his 43rd 20/10 game with 26 points and 10 rebounds for the Timberwolves, who won for the third time in the last four home games to keep their razor-thin playoff hopes alive.
Love also hit three 3-pointers, giving him two or more in 13 straight game — the longest streak in the NBA this season.
Rookie center Gorgui Dieng gave Minnesota a boost in place of injured center Nikola Pekovic, posting a double-double in his first start with career highs in points (12), rebounds (11) and blocked shots (5) in 37 minutes.
Thomas paced the Kings with 27 points, including 13 of Sacramento’s last 15 points in the third quarter and two late 3-pointers to keep the Kings within a possession. He also had seven assists to top 1,000 for his career.
Forward Derrick Williams, who was traded to Sacramento from Minnesota in November, scored 26 points and grabbed 11 rebounds off the bench for his first double-double since Feb. 28 against the Lakers.
The Kings, in the finale of a seven-game road trip, fell to 0-10 this season without center DeMarcus Cousins, who was a late scratch because of right knee tendinitis.
Minnesota led by as many as 10 points in the first quarter, but the lead changed 16 times from there as the teams traded runs. Sacramento’s 11-2 burst, with six from Williams, gave the Kings their first lead midway through the second quarter at 40-38. They led 54-53 at halftime.
The Timberwolves came out of the locker room with a 9-2 run sparked by five points from Love, but Thomas scored six straight during a 10-2 spurt later in the quarter to tie the score at 69.
Sacramento went ahead 95-94 on Williams’ free throws with 1:26 to play, but Love hit a 3-pointer on Minnesota’s next possession and the Timberwolves never trailed again.
All five Timberwolves starters scored in double figures, with guard Ricky Rubio contributing 11 and forward Corey Brewer adding 10. Rubio also had 10 assists.
Kings forward Rudy Gay finished with 14 points.
NOTES: Minnesota C Nikola Pekovic sat out Sunday because of a sore right ankle. Pekovic, who played seven games after missing 13 straight with bursitis in the ankle, left two minutes into the second half of Friday’s loss to the Charlotte Bobcats and didn’t return. Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman said he was not sure how long Pekovic would remain out. Rookie Gorgui Dieng made his first career start in Pekovic’s place. … Sacramento was also without its starting center. DeMarcus Cousins missed the game with right knee tendinitis. Sunday marked the first time this season the knee kept Cousins out of action, but it was the ninth game that he missed this season because of injury. Cousins also sat out a game because of suspension. Aaron Gray made his sixth start of the season in place of Cousins. … F Derrick Williams returned to Target Center for the second time since being traded to Sacramento from Minnesota in November. He averaged 11 points in his first two games against his former team.
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