While the Minnesota Timberwolves have been playing well, the Memphis Grizzlies have been even better.
The Grizzlies can match a season high with a fifth straight victory by continuing their success in Minnesota and preventing the Timberwolves from recording a third consecutive win Friday night.
Mike Conley had 27 points and 10 assists as Memphis (24-20) shot 54.7 percent to win 99-89 at Sacramento on Wednesday. Winners in nine of 10, the Grizzlies have finally found a rhythm.
"Our chemistry right now is as good as I’ve ever seen it," first-year coach David Joerger said. "Our confidence is high and we’re really trying to stay in the moment."
Memphis continues to flourish while going 7-1 since Marc Gasol returned from missing 23 games with a sprained knee. The Grizzlies have allowed an average of 85.9 points on 40.5 percent shooting since the reigning defensive player of the year came back, compared to the 98.3 and 46.5 percent they yielded while going 10-13 without him.
”Ever since we got Marc back we’ve been playing better," teammate Tayshaun Prince said. "You can see our confidence coming back. He helps us so much on defense. He has a real presence back there. When he was out we couldn’t get stops regularly like we are now."
Conley is averaging a career-high 18.2 points, and totaled 46 on 16-of-27 shooting while dishing out 17 assists in the last two contests.
"I’m playing at a high level and doing what my team needs me to do to do," he said. "I’m just playing to win."
Without Gasol, Conley scored 28 against the Timberwolves on Dec. 15, but the Grizzlies’ 11-game winning streak in the series ended with a 101-93 home loss. Memphis has still won five straight at Minnesota by an average of 10.2 points.
Hoping to end that slide, the Timberwolves (23-22) also look to match their season-best winning streak after they topped the .500 mark for the first time since Nov. 23 with an 88-77 home win over New Orleans on Wednesday.
Playing their first game since losing starting center Nikola Pekovic (18.0 points, 9.1 rebounds per game) for at least a week to an ankle injury, Kevin Love had 30 points and 14 rebounds as the Timberwolves won for the fifth time in six games.
”I was a little upset with myself with some of the shots I took that I felt like I could’ve made,” said Love, who has 61 points in two games but was 11 of 26 and missed five of six 3-pointers Wednesday.
"The ball didn’t feel great. That’s the way it goes sometimes. If I can do that and we can win without Pek, that’s a good sign.”
Minnesota overcame a 40.2-percent shooting effort by holding the Pelicans to 35.4. Two nights earlier it held Chicago to 37.6 percent in a 95-86 road win.
"You’re just trying to get better and understand what you’re trying to accomplish out there," Ronny Turiaf told the Timberwolves’ official website after he had four points and eight rebounds while starting for Pekovic.
Injuries have limited Love to action in three of Minnesota’s last nine games against the Grizzlies. He’s averaged 28.3 points during that span, and scored 30 at Memphis last month.
The Grizzlies could be without forward Mike Miller after he sprained his right thumb on Wednesday. Miller, who has played in all 44 games averaging 21.5 minutes, is listed as day to day.