The Minnesota Timberwolves (25-30) welcomed the Golden State Warriors (20-32) to the Target Center on Wednesday night. The Pups entered the game on a three-game losing streak and in 12th place in the Western Division, 4-1/2 games out of the eighth and final playoff spot. The Warriors entered the game on a six-game losing streak in 13th place in the Western Division, and 3-1/2 games behind the Pups. The Wolves had gone 4-10 since point guard Ricky Rubio was lost for the season with an ACL/MCL injury on March 9. The Warriors had gone 2-11 since trading shooting guard Monta Ellis to Milwaukee on March 14. Tonight, something had to give, and it turned out to be one of the worst giveaways of the Wolves’ season.
Minnesota’s playoff hopes seem to be diminishing as fast as the teams’ health. Five of the Pups’ six leading scorers have missed significant games due to injuries in the last month. The sole remaining starter (Kevin Love) and bench have been called on to over-achieve night-after-night in the lockout-shortened 2011/2012 season. The Wolves’ injuries and compressed schedule have clearly taken a toll on this young Pups squad, and with it, the once promising hopes for a playoff spot.
The Wolves fell behind 12-6 in the first quarter, but finished on a 20-9 run at the end of the quarter to lead 26-21. Kevin Love scored 12 points on 6-13 shooting and had five rebounds. Nikola Pekovic added 7 points on 3-3 shooting. Martell Webster had five rebounds in the quarter.
Golden State went the first 5:10 of the second quarter without a point, allowing the Wolves to build a 35-21 lead. The lead grew to 49-29 before the Warriors closed the quarter on a 10-0 run. Still, the Wolves led 51-39 at halftime. K-Love had 16 points on 7-18 shooting, with nine rebounds in the half. Wayne Ellington added seven points for the Wolves during the quarter. David Lee had 14 points for Golden State, with Richard Jefferson adding 10 points off the bench. The Warriors actually outshot the Wolves 42.5% to 41.7% during the first half. However, the Pups outrebounded the Warriors 30-15 in the half.
The third quarter had to have been one of the worst quarters of basketball of the season for the Pups as the Warriors outscored the Wolves 38-20. The Warriors erased a 20 point second quarter deficit (49-29) in just 8 minutes of play, going on a 30-9 run to lead 59-58. Klay Thompson ignited the Warriors’ second half comeback with nine points on 4-4 shooting in the first 4:30 of play. The Warriors outscored the Wolves 22-4 in the paint in the third quarter on their way to a 77-71 lead after three. David Lee and Kevin Love alternated showing offensive prowess and defensive futility. As good as K-Love can be offensively, he can be as bad defensively. The heavy weight of his injured and tired team on his shoulders has not helped this situation.
The Wolves had lost 19 straight games during April and had not won an April game since 2009 against Golden State. Their hopes of ending the streak would not be realized tonight. Wayne Ellington and JJ Barea led a Pups rally in the fourth quarter to tie the score 94- 94 with a minute to play, with Ellington scoring 10 points and Barea scoring 8 points. However, the Warriors’ Charles Jenkins drove down the lane through the heart of the Wolves’ “defense” with 20 seconds left for the winning basket on the way to a 97-94 Golden State win. In the Pups’ final possession, Barea got in trouble while going one-on-nine, missing an off-balance prayer which would have tied the game. Barea ended the game with 15 points on 6-15 shooting, with 7 turnovers. K-Love scored 29 points for the Wolves on 12-28 shooting, but he was 0-7 on threes, with 12 rebounds. This was his first double/double in three games. Wayne Ellington contributed 17 points for the Pups on 7-11 shooting with 7 rebounds in 20 minutes. David Lee led the Warriors with 31 points on 13-25 shooting. Charles Jenkins had 19 points, and Richard Jefferson added 13 points off the bench for the Warriors. Golden State gathered loose ball after loose ball and had numerous second chance baskets in the second half to make the difference in the game.
This was a very disappointing loss for the Wolves before their home crowd, and their fourth loss in a row. Rick Adelman hopes to do something on the road at New Orleans on Saturday which Kurt Rambis was unable to do in two full seasons with the Pups – coach the team to an April win.