On Wednesday night, the Timberwolves hosted the Golden State Warriors (3-1) in a matchup that included two of the fasted-paced teams in the league. Minnesota (3-1), coming off their first loss of the season to Cleveland on Monday night, shot a mere 37% from the field as a team and was out-played on both ends of the floor despite Warriors star Stephen Curry missing much of the second half with a bone bruise. The Warriors relied on some hot shooting by Klay Thompson in the fourth quarter to ultimately win 106-93, winning for the fifth consecutive time at the Target Center.
The Timberwolves once again went with the starting lineup of Ricky Rubio, Kevin Martin, Corey Brewer, Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic. Minnesota fans got their first live glimpses of the Warriors slightly revamped lineup which now includes tremendous all around player Andre Igoudala, as well as Curry, Thompson, David Lee and Andrew Bogut.
Led by the defensive-minded Marc Jackson, it was immediately clear that the Warriors defensive focus was to stymie Rubio’s penetration by baiting him to take open jump-shots running off screens. With both teams trying to push the ball in transition, the game quickly turned sloppy as this was highlighted on Minnesota’s end with Brewer missing three easy layups in the first five minutes of the game. Despite several turnovers by Golden State, Minnesota was unable to capitalize on the Warriors mistakes and failed to score on any of the 6 Golden State turnovers. As Rubio had trouble navigating the Warriors defense, Love played the role of temporary facilitator as he tallied 3 first-quarter assists to go along with 8 points and 6 rebounds. Meanwhile, Martin showed off his creativity on the offensive end leading Minnesota with 9 points heading into the second quarter. On the other end, Harrison Barnes led Golden State with 8 points off the bench. Minnesota held a 28-26 advantage after one.
With Pek getting some rest, Gorgui Dieng‘s presence on the floor was conspicuously perceived in the second period after committing three quick fouls against the veteran backup center Jermaine O’Neal. The Timberwolves’ raw rookie center brought tremendous energy, but looked lost on the offensive end. The second unit began the second quarter for Minnesota, and they were particularly ineffective as the offense quickly turned stagnant. Golden State quickly went on a 9-0 run to begin the second quarter, and the Wolves were forced to cut short several of the starters early game breathers. With the offense continuing to falter, the Warriors jumped ahead 40-33 with 6:16 left in the first half prompting a frustrated Rick Adelman timeout. Despite being one of the top three-point shooting teams in the league, the Warriors shot a combined 0-8 from long-range in the first half allowing the Wolves to claw back in the minutes leading up to halftime. As the players headed into the locker room the Warriors held a 50-47 lead.
- It is hard not to focus on Pek’s struggles so far this season as he is having a tough time getting into any sort of rhythm on either end of the floor. Even with Bogut in first half foul trouble, Pek was unable to take advantage when matched up with the aged backup O’Neal. I wonder if he is missing Bill Bayno…
- Both Lee and Love put up big numbers in the first half, with Lee posting 16 points (7-9 FG) and 8 rebounds. After a big first quarter, Love went into the break with 10 points (4-10 FG) and 8 rebounds.
- Rubio needs to stop taking contested long jumpers when running off of screens, as his shot is still very far from even being considered average in the NBA.
- Brewer missed a total of four layups in the first half. Absolutely unacceptable.
- The Wolves were doing nothing on the offensive glass despite there being plenty of misses to turn into second chance opportunities.
The teams came out of the break by trading baskets to start the first few minutes of the third quarter. With just under 9 minutes left in the quarter, Thompson hit the first three of game for the Warriors as they had previously missed their first 8 in the first half. A scary moment for Golden State fans came at the 8:41 mark, when Curry came up limping off an inbounds pass and had to leave game with his team ahead 61-52. After getting his right leg worked on by a trainer, Curry tried coming back in approximately three minutes after the injury occured. However, he was clearly affected by the injury and would eventually head to the locker room and leave the game. With an injury to their star, the Warriors frontcourt made things worse by getting into more serious foul trouble midway through the third as Lee and Bogut received their fourth and fifth fouls, respectively. With Curry hurting, Igoudala manned the point and did a fine job at that. With just seconds to go in the period, the Warriors were able to quickly rush down the floor finding a wide-open Marreese Speights for a three-pointer to end the period giving the Warriors a 79-71 lead. The Wolves had 16 turnovers through three quarters.
During the fourth quarter, Thompson came alive and was lights on from nearly every spot he got the ball. The Warriors extended their lead to 12 on back-to-back three-pointers from the young sharpshooter, putting the Warriors ahead 89-77. The Timberwolves showed virtually no ability to create plays in the half-court offense and their 19 total team turnovers led to 26 points by Golden State. Some late garbage time buckets for the Wolves made this a 13-point loss, but it felt like quite a lot more.
Three Stars of the Game
- Klay Thompson: 30 points (11-21 FG, 6-9 3pt), 0 turnovers
- David Lee: 22 points (10-16 FG), 15 rebounds
- Kevin Love: 25 points (10-25 FG, 1-4 3pt), 16 rebounds, 6 assists
- Tough game for the Wolves second unit as they scored only 10 points. Minnesota cannot rely on their starters to do everything if they are to be a playoff team this season.
- Pek is pressing and needs to settle down and get back to grabbing offensive rebounds. He needs to trust his abilities and be more aggressive in the paint.
- The Wolves only scored 10 points off 21 Golden State turnovers, and they will need to improve this number if they want to play teams like the Warriors competitively
- Igoudala looks like a great fit for Golden State, and he could potentially be the missing piece for a Warriors team that is a true contender in the West.