The Timberwolves traveled further west for two weekend games, starting with Friday night’s game in the Bay Area to take on the 26-17 Warriors. The Warriors took care of the Wolves earlier this season at Target Center and it was time for the team to redeem themselves. Friday night was also another opportunity for the Wolves to reach the .500 mark with a win.
After lacerating his finger earlier this week, Kevin Martin was a little bit of a question mark. However, no surprises as it got closer to tip-off in the Pups starting lineup: Rubio, Martin, Brewer, Love, and Pekovic. Similarly, there were a few question marks going into tonight on the Warriors lineup given a few minor injuries. However, no surprises there either, as the team sent out the following lineup: Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, David Lee, and Andrew Bogut.
Sleeved jersey alert! The Timberwolves came out in their alternate, black jersey. It might have been a nice contrast on the court if the Warriors came out with their gold/yellow sleeved jersey as well. I digress.
As might have been expected with these two teams, the Wolves and Warriors came out firing on offense. Going into the first timeout, the Wolves held a 23-17 just over halfway through the first twelve minutes. For Minnesota, Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic were off to a hot start. Meanwhile, the Warriors were led by Steph Curry’s quick 7 points and 2 assists.
Coming out of the first break in the action, the newly appointed all-stars continued on their impressive play, particularly Curry who banked in a three pointer and was fouled by Ricky Rubio, to give the Warriors a 29-28 lead. The offensive explosion continued through the final few minutes of the 1st quarter and the teams drew even at the end of the first twelve minutes, 36-36. (That’s an insane pace by the way, carried through four quarters equals 288 points … and I didn’t think twice about this actually happening at the time.)
At a slightly slower pace and success rate, the 2nd quarter was filled with more exciting basketball for fans that want to see more offense. It also continued to be a Wolves frontcourt vs. a Warriors backcourt, with both teams feeding their respective strengths. At the half, the teams remained tied at 63. Here are a few halftime thoughts:
- Through halftime, Andrew Bogut has been non-existent against the Pups this season. 4 points and 6 rebounds at the half, while Pek already had his triple-double for the evening (12 & 10)
- The newly announced Western Conference All-Star starters were on full display in the first half as both had 15 & 6 at halftime (Love with 6 rebounds, Curry with 6 assists)
“You can get whatever you want at the rim against Minnesota” – Bob Fitzgerald, GSW’s play-by-play announcer. That was not the start of the second half that Adelman was probably looking for. Here is all you need to know about going into the first timeout of the second half: Kevin Love twisted his ankle and Wolves Nation went immediately into a state of panic. Thankfully, Love came right back out on the court and collected a beautiful offensive rebound and put-back. (Collective sigh)
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the end of the bad news. The Pups’ defense was nowhere to be found and their offense couldn’t keep up with the Warriors in the 3rd quarter. The Warriors put up another 35 points in the 3rd and took a 98-91 lead into the final frame. Would you like some salt with that wound? Kevin Love retreated to the bench again towards the end of third and was seen with an icepack on his knee. Repeat the state of panic for Wolves Nation (on Twitter).
The Wolves reversed this season’s trend and played a brilliant 4th quarter, taking it punch by punch against the high octane Warriors. The bench, led by Alexey Shved and AJ Price opened up the final quarter and cut into the Warriors lead. With just under 8 minutes left in the game, the Pups’ starters returned to the floor (including Love, phew!) and took the game home. The entire starting five contributed in the final frame and it was a thing of beauty.
For the first time this season, the Wolves pulled out a win in a game decided by four points or less. The record at this point in the season in said games is now 1-11. In the words of Johnny Drama … “VICTORY!!”
Final score: Timberwolves 121, Warriors 120
Three Stars of the Game
- Nikola Pekovic – Dominating performance from the Pups’ big man, 22 & 14, with a game high +14
- Kevin Martin – Efficient night scoring for Martin, tying Love with a team high 26 points on 10-17 shooting, including the game winner with under 10 seconds remaining
- Stephen Curry – He’s good … to the tune of 33 points and 15 assists Friday night
- A win, is a win, is a win … particularly one on the road against a team in the Western Conference. This game very easily could have gone the other way had Harrison Barnes made the open jumper as time expired and the mood of Wolves Nation would have been abysmal. OK, let’s stay happy with the win.
- As you can see above, Steph Curry lit up the Wolves’ PG’s again. Rubio and Barea are just getting torched more regularly than I/you would hope. That likely won’t stop when the Wolves take the court again vs. Damian Lillard and the Blazers this evening.