The Sacramento Kings open a seven-game road trip on Saturday with the first of two consecutive games in Minneapolis against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The Kings have dropped two of three since the end of their six-game winning streak, which ran Jan. 9-20. They scored a season-low 95 points their last time out in a loss Wednesday to Toronto.
Domantas Sabonis’ offensive woes underscored Sacramento’s collective struggles against the Raptors. Sabonis committed a season-high nine turnovers on Wednesday, one game removed from coughing up eight turnovers in a win over Memphis.
“You hope it’s one of those stretches. But the reality of it is, they’ve gotten up in him and they’ve pressured him,” Kings coach Mike Brown said Wednesday, crediting opposing defenses for Sabonis’ giveaways. “When he puts it on the floor, they’re shrinking.
“He’s got to make the simple pass,” Brown added, drawing a comparison to Sabonis making “a hockey assist,” wherein his pass leads to another pass and score.
Despite the turnover issues the last two games, Sabonis has been a driving force behind Sacramento’s surge to third place in the Western Conference. He is averaging an NBA-best 12.4 rebounds per game and a career high of 7.3 assists per game to go with his 18.4 points a contest.
Sabonis is one of six Kings averaging at least 12.4 points per game, with De’Aaron Fox’s 23.8 setting the pace for the league’s highest-scoring offense at 119.7 points per game.
Sacramento brings its efficient and balanced offense into Minnesota to face a Timberwolves team playing the second game of a weekend back-to-back.
Minnesota opened its six-game homestand on Friday with a 111-100 win over the Memphis Grizzlies.
The Timberwolves weathered a 27-point, 11-assist, 10-rebound triple-double from Ja Morant thanks to 25 points from Anthony Edwards. Kyle Anderson also scored 23 points on 4-of-7 shooting from the arc and the Wolves got 19 points, eight rebounds and seven assists from D’Angelo Russell.
Nathan Knight came off the bench to score 10 points, his second game producing double figures in the last four.
“Nate’s a pretty good running mate with a lot of different types of bigs,” Timberwolves coach Chris Finch said.
Minnesota has used a variety of big men in the rotation with center Rudy Gobert while awaiting the return of Karl-Anthony Towns, who last played Nov. 28 due to a calf injury.
Knight, Naz Reid and Luka Garza have all seen significant minutes. Reid is averaging more than 10 points per game but has been limited to single-digit scoring in the last five contests after finishing with nine on Friday.
Edwards has effectively shouldered Minnesota’s scoring load at 34.3 points per game over the last four. Friday ended a streak of three straight outings posting at least 31 points.
“Can’t shoot all the shots. Just got to give it off some of the time, so I’m cool with it,” Edwards said postgame. “I know when they rotate, they’re going to try to put two (defenders) on me. … I’m going to keep making the right play until they loosen up.”
Minnesota comes into Saturday’s matchup a winner in four of five and has climbed to a game above .500. The Timberwolves are 10-4 since the beginning of 2023.
–Field Level Media