SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Although the Sacramento Kings have a new coach and a novel defensive intensity, they share one strong quality with their high-scoring predecessors.
The Kings still draw strength from their frenzied sellout crowds -- particularly when they've been away for a while.
John Salmons and Shareef Abdur-Rahim had 13 points apiece for the Kings, who never trailed in new coach Eric Musselman's first game at Arco Arena after opening the season with a tough three-game road trip that began with a loss in Minnesota five days earlier.
With an impressive third quarter and strong play down the stretch, the Kings easily snapped the Timberwolves' five-game winning streak in Sacramento. These Kings don't yet score with the same grace showed by the teams led by Chris Webber and Peja Stojakovic, but change was good in the opener.
"You've got to give the home people something to cheer about," Musselman said. "That's with energy and pushing the ball and playing defense. We tried ... to get the crowd involved. We didn't want them sitting on their hands."
The Kings' 314th consecutive capacity crowd welcomed Musselman, who replaced Rick Adelman after eight straight winning seasons and playoff appearances. The fans saw largely the same rotation as last season's club, but with a whole new emphasis on active defense.
Kenny Thomas provided several exciting plays with 10 points, 11 rebounds and strong defense on Kevin Garnett for the Kings, who have won eight of their last nine home openers, and 16 of 22 since moving to Sacramento.
"When they started to make a run, we didn't react to it," said Garnett, who had 15 points and 10 rebounds. "We can't blame anything on fatigue, because they've been traveling, too. We know at home they're a different team, and they play with a lot more energy."
Mike James scored 23 points for the Timberwolves, who beat Sacramento 92-83 in Minneapolis last week. Minnesota has lost consecutive games to Portland and Sacramento on a four-game road trip that concludes Tuesday against the Lakers.
"It's what I describe as a stinker," Timberwolves coach Dwane Casey said. "We didn't attack their intensity, and I think we just sleepwalked. Sacramento brought their 'A' game. I thought we brought our 'B' game."
Garnett scored two quick baskets early in the fourth quarter to trim the Kings' lead to nine points, but the Timberwolves star briefly left the game with eight minutes to play after landing awkwardly while avoiding Artest's defense on a layup.
Garnett returned moments later, but Minnesota was in the midst of more than four minutes without a basket after his layup. Sacramento scored nine straight points to clinch it, capped by Salmons' 3-pointer with 3:51 to play.
"It was all right, but we're trying to get better," Thomas said. "It feels good to get to .500. Hopefully we can keep getting better."
Not everything went well for Sacramento on Monday: Before the game, the Kings learned three-time All-Star center Brad Miller will miss at least a month while recovering from a torn muscle in his left foot.
Abdur-Rahim held his own in the paint while starting in place of Miller, who had largely struggled since returning from Japan, where he played for the U.S. national team this summer.
"Brad being out right now, that's very difficult," Thomas said. "Everybody has to play harder on defense to make up for it."
- Sacramento was the only NBA team to open with three consecutive road games. Each of its first three opponents was playing its home opener.
- After playing twice in five days, the teams don't meet again until Jan. 31.
- Mike Bibby scored 10 points for the Kings, leaving him eight short of 10,000 in his career.