Two teams headed east following the game hope to make the most of their last day in California when the Chicago Bulls visit the Sacramento Kings on Sunday afternoon.
The Bulls will be looking to break even on a six-game trip that saw them win two of the first three before dropping the last couple at Phoenix and Golden State.
They’ll be seeking their first win at Sacramento in three years when they encounter a Kings club that has won two in a row, including a 123-96 romp on the road against the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday afternoon.
The Bulls and Kings have not met previously this season.
Chicago appeared on the verge of a surprising comeback at Golden State on Friday night when it held the Warriors without a point for 3 1/2 minutes, allowing the visitors to close an eight-point deficit to 110-109 after a Zach LaVine 3-pointer with 2:27 to play.
Chicago’s defense cracked down on the Warriors’ next possession as well, but Draymond Green nailed a desperation 26-footer to save Golden State.
Big man Nikola Vucevic wasn’t buying talk of a moral victory afterward.
“We had opportunities at the end, but we have to be better throughout 48 minutes to not get ourselves in such a deep hole,” he said after contributing 23 points and 11 rebounds to the cause. “At least you know we competed until the end, but we’re not here for the feel-good losses. We’re here to win, so we have to be better.”
The Bulls have won at Milwaukee and Utah already on the 12-day trip. They get a nice break over the next six days, when they’re scheduled just twice — at home against the Washington Wizards and Dallas Mavericks.
Getting a third win on the trip doesn’t figure to be easy. The Kings have won seven of their last eight at home, including a 137-114 triumph over the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday in their most recent outing in Sacramento.
Sacramento got its trademark balanced scoring in Saturday’s win, with Domantas Sabonis (24 points in 26 minutes) and Keegan Murray (23 points in 28 minutes) leading the way.
The matchup of Sabonis against the Bulls is the rekindling of a 4 1/2-year rivalry while the power forward played for the Pacers.
He was dealt to the Kings last February and very quickly found himself making an Eastern trek that wrapped up in Chicago. Sabonis had 22 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists in a loss that night, just the sixth time in his career that he’s lost to the Bulls in 18 meetings.
Since Sabonis and new coach Mike Brown have arrived, the Kings have begun a tradition of lighting purple beams from the top of their home arena, the Golden 1 Center, following wins.
One problem: Day games like Sunday’s.
“We’ve got to figure out how the beam can be seen during the day, and any other future wins we get during the day,” Brown took time to ponder this past week. “We’ve got to get a stronger beam.”