for this game

Garcia, Kings win in Natt's debut

Dec 16, 2008 - 6:57 AM By Tom Galland PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

SACRAMENTO, California (Ticker) -- The Kenny Natt coaching era in got off to a slow start, but the Sacramento Kings came on strong to give their new coach a victory in his debut.

Francisco Garcia led eight players in double figures with 21 points as the Kings sent the Minnesota Timberwolves to their 10th straight defeat, 118-103, at Arco Arena on Monday night.

John Salmons added 17 for the Kings, who shot 51 percent (43-of-85) for the game.

Natt took over coaching duties for the rest of the season after Reggie Theus was fired by the Kings earlier in the day following a 6-18 start.

"It feels great," Natt said after notching his first career win as a head coach. "It's been a long day - a very long day."

"Kenny is a good guy," Salmons said. "The main thing is that he has been here the whole time so he knows what was going on so he can improve on the things that we were doing wrong. We moved the ball a lot tonight."

On the other side, Minnesota's Kevin McHale dropped to 0-5 since taking over the helm of the woeful Timberwolves (4-20) a week ago.

It didn't look good early for the Kings, already in the midst of stretch of nine losses in 10 games at home.

Sacramento opened the game by missing its first 10 shots from the floor and fell behind 15-3 midway through the first quarter.

"I didn't know if I was going to have to dress and shoot a shot myself or what," Natt said. "No, what was going through my mind was not panicking. My conversation to them was don't worry about it. I had confidence that, at some point, we'd start hitting some shots."

The Kings would find a rhythm soon after and forged into a 53-50 lead at the break when rookie Bobby Brown buried a 3-pointer as time expired in the first half.

Minnesota went ice cold in the third quarter, converting just 5-of-21 shots, and Sacramento seized the opportunity by outscoring the Timberwolves, 33-17, to take a 19-point lead into the fourth quarter.

Sacramento held Al Jefferson scoreless in the third after the Timberwolves' leading scorer had delivered 22 first-half points.

Jefferson did not play in the fourth as Minnesota tried to come back behind long-range shooting.

"We have to do a better of of getting Al the ball when he's hot like that," McHale said. "We spent too much time trying to force it to him when the angles were bad. (Sacramento) destroyed the angles and started pushing him out further."

Jefferson had free reign inside the lane in the first half but found the going much tougher after the Kings made their halftime adjustments.

"They trapped in the second half," Jefferson said. "I only took three shots in the second half, so I moved the ball and got guys open shots."

Unfortunately for Jefferson, few of those shots found the bottom of the net, forcing Minnesota to have to rally from behind to no avail.

Rashad McCants did his part with 17 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter, but the Timberwolves could get no closer than 14.

Sacramento's players accepted the coaching change as something that can happen when a team underperforms like it has in recent weeks, winning just two of its final 15 games under Theus.

"It was a longer shootaround today, that's for sure," said center Brad Miller, who delivered one of his best efforts of the season with 14 points and 10 rebounds in 27 minutes. "I think he wants to install a lot of things that he learned from Jerry Sloan, who is a heck of a coach.

"I think we're going to put a little more accountability on everybody. Sometimes, you need a chance to get a little more energy and enthusiasm."

The Kings and Natt will be put to the test in the next week as they play four games on the road against top tier Western Conference opponents.