Kings’ Malik Monk drops season-high 39 points in statement win over Timberwolves

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Rudy Gobert side-stepped Domantas Sabonis for a lefty layup resulting in two of his 16 points with 2:20 left in the third quarter Friday. Gobert got away with an an off-hand elbow to the throat of Sabonis, trimmed the Minnesota Timberwolves’ deficit to 81-79 and unknowingly changed the game all at once.

Malik Monk was seething at the lack of a whistle for his big man. He told the nearest official about it, and was loud enough to be heard on the broadcast. Gobert trotted down to the opposite end of the court and bumped Monk out of his way in the process.

Monk responded with some words — presumably NSFW — and then dropped 32 of his season-high 39 points to lift the Sacramento Kings to a 124-120 overtime win against the top-seeded team in the Western Conference. He landed timely buckets en route to his second-highest-scoring game with the Kings and his 35 second-half points were a career high for any half. Monk solidified himself as a contender for Sixth Man of the Year with the performance.

Sacramento handed the Timberwolves their seventh home loss of the season, largely powered by Monk’s dominance over the Minnesota defense, and are thus far the only team to beat them twice on their home floor.

“I had to get it going,” Monk said of his performance. “Somebody besides Domantas (Sabonis) and Keegan (Murray) was going to have to step up. I think me and Davion (Mitchell) did that, especially with the second unit. Trey (Lyles) had some big plays. But yeah man, I just knew I had to get it going at some point and I was getting to the lane and midrange and the flow opened things up for me.”

Monk had four points with just over three minutes to play in the third frame. He finished his evening with a game-high 39 points, four rebounds, four assists and a steal in 33 minutes of action — all off the bench. He shot 16 of 29 from the field and 5 of 8 from behind the arc.

The former Kentucky product stepped in to guide the Kings in fellow Wildcat De’Aaron Fox’s absence. Fox missed his second consecutive game with a left knee contusion he suffered in Monday night’s loss to the Miami Heat.

“I think it was a statement win,” Monk said. “Even though (Anthony Edwards) left and they had one of their All-Stars leave at half, I still think it was a statement win because we didn’t have one of our All-Stars and Domantas went out late. I mean we just stayed together man, it was a team effort. We had a little team meeting before we left yesterday, in Denver.

“To talk about that we had to take this sh– serious because we got 23 games left I think now. … We knew we had to come together and just outwork somebody.”

After posting 11 points, two rebounds and two assists on 2-of-11 shooting, Edwards was ruled out at halftime due to personal reasons. But Sacramento was also without its best player in Fox, who was averaging 31.6 points, 7.2 rebounds, 7.2 assists and 2.6 steals through his last five games on 52.1 percent shooting.

Sabonis also briefly exited after taking a Karl-Anthony Towns knee to the midsection late in the third quarter before returning in the fourth. He continued on his tear of 42-straight double-doubles before fouling out with 21 points to go along with 15 rebounds and eight assists, both team highs, and three blocks.

The players-only meeting Monk alluded to helped manifest this statement win.

“I. Freaking. Love it,” Coach Mike Brown said during his postgame news conference. “I’ve been talking internally to our front office, to our coaches, even to our team. We won’t reach the heights that we can reach until you guys take ownership. As a head coach, you can push and carry the group only so far. There’s got to be a point in time to where it comes from within. They talk to one another, they hold each other accountable and they take ownership in whatever the heck is going on in front of them.

“So, for them to have that for the first time. Man, I actually went out and had a drink last night. It was partly because of that,” Brown said as he chuckled.

Friday was a prime example of his team taking ownership of it. Especially after the disappointing loss at Golden 1 to a short-handed Heat team without Jimmy Butler, Tyler Herro and Terry Rozier. Which was followed by a Denver Nuggets thrashing by 21 points, which the Kings at one point trailed by 32.

Without Fox, Sacramento played inspired basketball while one of its two leaders was looking on from the bench.

“I’ll tell you what, it was a great win for us on the road,” Brown said.

“I thought tonight we did a good job of playing fast. … But I thought our level of physicality really showed tonight. We were extremely physical in both halves and one way to show was there were 11 50-50 balls out there and we came up with eight of them. For us, that’s huge.”

Keon Ellis — who started in place of Fox and has seen his minutes fluctuate this season — spearheaded Sacramento’s physicality. His game-high four steals earned him the defensive player of the game crown. Two of which came within the game’s opening minutes.

“Shoutout to Keon for staying ready,” Mitchell, who tied his season high with 16 points on 7-of-8 shooting, said. “He hasn’t played in a long time, and he came out and set the tone for us to win this game. Throughout the whole game we kind of picked up from him and his pressure defensively.”

Staying ready is a common theme for Ellis. The former Alabama standout has gone from a two-way contract after going undrafted in 2022 to recently signing three-year deal.

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‘He stayed ready’: Keon Ellis shines with career night as Kings outlast Thunder

But back to the Monk mastery. Fourth-quarter Fox became a phenomenon last season. The fourth quarter Friday, though, belonged to Monk as he scored 18 of his 39.

“You know with Fox out, we needed to generate points from somebody,” Brown said. “For Malik to score 39 points in an overtime game for us was huge. He was just fantastic offensively for us, especially down the stretch.

“The great teams always have two or three guys like that, where sometimes you don’t have to call a play. You just say, ‘Here’s the ball. Go make a play for yourself or for your teammates.’ And Malik did that.”

Though he couldn’t connect on a 29-foot game-winning 3-point attempt, Monk capped off his dominant night by outscoring the Timberwolves himself in overtime. He made up for his miss to close regulation by sinking both of his long-range attempts, while Minnesota was held to five points as a unit during the game’s final five minutes.

 

“Man, Malik is an amazing player, he does everything for us,” Mitchell said. “He gets it done.”

(Photo: David Berding / Getty Images)





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Alexandra Williams
Alexandra Williams
Alexandra Williams is a writer and editor. Angeles. She writes about politics, art, and culture for LinkDaddy News.

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