Two road-weary teams meet in Minneapolis on Sunday night before heading in opposite directions when the Minnesota Timberwolves host the Golden State Warriors.
The Timberwolves won't get an opportunity to unpack their bags in what constitutes as nothing more than a layover between trips to Memphisand New York.
When last seen at home on Jan. 5, Minnesota handled Oklahoma City 98-90 on the front half of a back-to-back. The Timberwolves then went to Oklahoma City for 135-105 victory that opened a four-city trip when they went 2-2.
Sunday's game will be their seventh straight that will be contested on a different court than their previous outing, a streak that, remarkably, will continue for their next seven games as well until they get a two-game homestand against the Utah Jazz and Denver Nuggets bridging January and February.
Minnesota is coming off consecutive losses to the New Orleans Pelicans and Memphis Grizzlies, but displayed its improved play this season by leading the red-hot Grizzlies for the better part of three quarters in a 116-108 loss on Thursday.
The Timberwolves' Big Three of Karl-Anthony Towns, D'Angelo Russell and Anthony Edwards put on a nice show in Memphis, combining for 84 points. Jarred Vanderbilt and Patrick Beverley completed a well-rounded effort by the starting five with a combined contribution of 11 points, 21 rebounds and six assists.
Some teams don't believe in "good losses." The Timberwolves aren't one of them.
"I definitely think we're close," Russell insisted after the game. "I think we're right there. I think we're right on it. But until we buy in to doing those little things, we won't find a way to win the game."
Another measuring stick comes to town in the form of the Warriors, who, coincidentally, lost to the Grizzlies by the same score (116-108) to tip off a four-game trip.
They have gone on to experience one of their lows (a 118-99 shellacking at Milwaukee) and one of their highs (a 138-96 romp at Chicago), and now face one last obstacle before a 12-day, seven-game homestand.
Despite going for a third straight game without injured Draymond Green and giving Klay Thompson a night off, the Warriors shocked the Bulls with a 78-point first half and a career-best outburst by rookie Jonathan Kuminga.
Getting additional playing time in Green's absence, Kuminga went for a game-high 25 points at Chicago, making an array of shots that impressed even his seen-it-all veteran teammates.
"He can jump out of the gym. He's fast. He's strong as (an ox). He's got it all," teammate Andrew Wiggins said. "And today he showed out. He was aggressive toward the rim, hitting his shots, played amazing defense. The sky's the limit for him."
Kuminga never left the bench in Golden State's 123-110 home win over the Timberwolves in November. The Warriors were able to offset Edwards' 48 points with more of a team effort, led by Wiggins' 35 and Stephen Curry's 25.
Kevon Looney aided the cause by holding Towns in check. In fact, Looney's numbers were nearly a mirror image of what Towns put up, his 11 points and 17 rebounds matching Towns' 17 points and 11 boards.
--Field Level Media