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Miller picks up slack with 27 points, 15 boards

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The absence of two All-Stars didn't slow
Sacramento. The main thing missing was Minnesota's energy.

Brad Miller had 27 points, 15 rebounds and plenty of help
picking up the slack for a pair of injured teammates, sparking the
Kings to a 94-84 victory over the sluggish Timberwolves on Sunday
afternoon.

The Sacramento backcourt, Cuttino Mobley (23 points) and Mike
Bibby (21 points), surged for a combined 34 points over the final
two quarters. Peja Stojakovic (back spasms) and Chris Webber (sore
left knee) didn't suit up, but Minnesota missed a chance to
capitalize.

"Whenever we have people down, people step up," Bibby said.

Kevin Garnett had 21 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists for
the Wolves, whose five-game winning streak ended in ragged fashion.
The quiet crowd of 18,722 for the Timberwolves' earliest tipoff of
the season booed when the buzzer sounded.

"It was extremely disappointing," said coach Flip Saunders,
who suggested he might have to seek a routine change in light of
his Minnesota's poor performance in recent years during daylight
hours. "We might have to go back to the college days of putting
guys in hotels."

Sacramento shot only 35.6 percent in the first half, but Bibby
and Mobley soon got it going. The Kings went 14-for-23 in the third
quarter, using a 25-8 run over the first 8½ minutes to take
control. Keeping the ball away from Garnett, Mobley and Miller
repeatedly attacked Eddie Griffin on the pick-and-roll.

"I just became a bigger part of the offense," Miller said.

The Wolves, who got 17 points from Wally Szczerbiak, were
completely out of synch throughout most of the second half. Had the
Kings not missed nine of their 18 free throws, the outcome would've
been worse.

"It was a golden opportunity," said Sam Cassell, referring to
Minnesota's quest to overcome a rough start and move up in the
jammed Western Conference standings.

Darius Songaila gave Sacramento 12 points, six rebounds, six
assists and some valuable energy in Webber's spot. Starters scored
all but five points for the Kings, winners of nine of their last
11.

Mobley, acquired earlier this month in a trade with Orlando, has
47 points in his last two games -- his two best performances for
Sacramento.

"Getting Cuttino really helps us, because Mike doesn't always
have to run it," coach Rick Adelman said.

The Wolves trailed by nine early in the fourth when Songaila
soared to grab a rebound in traffic and kicked the ball to Bibby
for a 3-pointer that made it 78-66. Bibby followed with a short
running jumper on the next possession to push the lead to 14,
giving the Kings their biggest edge of the game and forcing
Minnesota to call timeout with 9:10 left.

"Mike was 0-for-8, and I think I was 0-for-100," Mobley said.
"But we stuck with it. We played help defense. Our mind-set was
keep playing hard and something good might happen."

No Sacramento reserve played more than nine minutes. Saunders,
still trying to find the right mix, used all 12 of his players --
several of whom have publicly lobbied for more time.

"That's all they tell everybody," Saunders said. "You'd think
when you get on the floor, you'd play and give everything you
have."

Mobley wondered about Saunders' substitution pattern.

"The way he was throwing around guys, I don't see how they can
get their rhythm," Mobley said.

Game notes
In his last four games, Miller is shooting better than 68
percent (41-for-60) from the floor. ... The Timberwolves lobbied
for a defensive 3-second call on Mobley in the second quarter,
arguing that he was hanging too long in the lane and not really
guarding Fred Hoiberg. Seconds after Mobley responded by shouting
"Shut up!" at the Minnesota bench, Hoiberg hit a 3-pointer. ...
The Kings won for just the third time in their last 15
regular-season games here. ... With energy man Mark Madsen out
several more weeks, the Wolves signed forward John Thomas for the
rest of the season after his second 10-day contract expired.
Madsen, meanwhile, had his broken left thumb examined this weekend
and his recovery remains on track. The pins he had inserted to
stabilize the thumb stick through the skin, by design. "It kind of
freaks me out," Madsen said. ... Starting with this game,
Minnesota plays on nine of the next 10 Sundays, including six
afternoon starts.