When the Minnesota Timberwolves and Sacramento Kings meet on Saturday night in the capital of California, they will be put to the test as two teams coming off dramatic and draining victories 24 hours earlier.
On Friday night, Minnesota defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 110-102 on the road thanks to Mike Conley’s crucial late 3-pointer and Rudy Gobert’s 22 points and 14 rebounds double-double.
At the same time, about 400 miles to the north, Domantas Sabonis converted a foul on the offensive boards into two free throws, giving the host Kings a 128-127 victory over the Clippers, the other Los Angeles team.
On a four-game California trip in which they have played or will play only playoff contenders, the Timberwolves recorded their second win in a row. After beginning the journey with a 109-104 defeat to the Golden State Warriors, they swept the Los Angeles teams.
In the meantime, the Kings have won five of their last six games. They are currently in third place in the Western Conference, three games ahead of the Phoenix Suns, who recently acquired Kevin Durant, and four games ahead of the Warriors, who are the defending champions and have also won five games in a row.
During their two previous meetings in Minneapolis, which were scheduled as part of a same-site miniseries, the Timberwolves and Kings were separated by little. On Jan. 28, the hosts prevailed 117-110 in the set opener thanks to 34 points from Anthony Edwards. Two days later, the Kings prevailed 118-111 in overtime thanks to 32 points from De’Aaron Fox.
On March 27, the clubs will meet once more in Sacramento.
Conley and the Timberwolves will be seen by the Kings for the first time this season. The seasoned point guard averaged 17.5 points and 7.5 assists in Sacramento’s two previous meetings with the Utah Jazz.
Gobert, Conley’s former Jazz teammate, has reunited with Conley. In his last five games, Gobert has averaged 18.6 points and 12.8 rebounds.
Gobert, who has shot 39-for-56 (69.6%) in those games, is aware that the meteoric rise in his stats since Conley joined the team is not accidental.
With their victory on Friday, the Kings, who haven’t made the playoffs since 2006, got closer. They moved within one game of the Memphis Grizzlies, who lost 113-97 to the Denver Nuggets, who were in first place, on Friday.
Mike Brown was named Western Coach of the Month for February, giving Sacramento a reward for its continued success this season.
Brown insisted that the accomplishment was the result of a team effort, as he has repeatedly stated about his team throughout the year.