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 at Minneapolis.
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 Timberwolves, whose five-game winning streak ended raggedly. The crowd booed them at the buzzer.
“It was extremely disappointing,” said Coach Flip Saunders, who suggested he might have to seek a change of routine in light of 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 35.6% in the first half, but Bibby and Mobley soon got it going. The Kings were 14 for 23 in the third quarter, using a 25-8 run over the first 8 1/2 minutes to take control. Keeping the ball away from Garnett, Mobley and Miller repeatedly attacked Eddie Griffin on the pick and roll.
“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.
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.”
Miami 104, Houston 95 -- On an off day for Shaquille O’Neal, Dwyane Wade had 30 points, eight rebounds and six assists to lead the Heat at Miami.
Limited by foul trouble to 27 minutes, O’Neal finished with 15 points and five rebounds.
Tracy McGrady had 28 points for Houston, which lost for the first time in its last four road games. Yao Ming had 12 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter for the Rockets.
Miami (33-13) moved 20 games over the .500 mark for the first time since the end of the 1999-2000 season, giving Coach Stan Van Gundy a 2-1 lead in the all-time series against his brother, Rocket Coach Jeff Van Gundy.
Phoenix 123, Toronto 105 -- Amare Stoudemire scored 19 of his 27 points in the third quarter at Toronto, and the Suns won their fifth in a row.
Phoenix outscored Toronto, 46-26, in the third quarter, the most points the Raptors have given up in any quarter in their 10-year history. The Suns, who led, 104-72, going into the fourth quarter, also improved to 4-0 on a six-game trip.
Chris Bosh tied a career high with 27 points for the Raptors.
Meanwhile, Toronto suspended point guard Rafer Alston for two games before the game for his conduct at practice a day before.
Cleveland 104, Milwaukee 87 -- Drew Gooden had a career-high 33 points -- 27 in the second half -- and Zydrunas Ilgauskas had 28 points and 18 rebounds to help the host Cavaliers win without LeBron James.
Ilgauskas and Gooden took over in the second half, scoring 42 of Cleveland’s 50 points to help the Cavaliers move to 1-1 without James, who suffered a sprained left ankle last week. He is expected to return Tuesday.
Michael Redd scored 23 points for the Bucks, who were held to a season-low 10 points in the fourth quarter.