For this afternoon’s game, John and I spontaneously decided to co-author the recap of the Timberwolves 100-99 home loss to the Golden State Warriors so that you can ponder the thoughts of two bummed-out Wolves fans instead of one. Enjoy.
Luke Ridnour’s last second floater over a trailing defender went up and rimmed out just moments before the buzzer sounded, completing the Warriors come-from-behind victory separated by a single point. Despite trailing by as many as 16 points in the first quarter, Golden State overcame Minnesota’s 5-point fourth quarter cushion and narrowly escaped with the victory on a night where nothing seemed to be going right for the playoff-destined Warriors.
Losing their tenth game when possessing a lead heading into the fourth quarter, the Timberwolves imploded in the final period and were impacted by questionable officiating throughout the contest.
The imposing Golden State frontcourt featuring All-Star David Lee and backup extraordinare Carl Landry got off to a very slow start as Nikola Pekovic and Williams established themselves on the low block. The Pups displayed strong ball movement in the interior courtesy of some fancy passes from Andrei Kirilenko.
Andrew Bogut, who was acquired last season in a trade involving Monta Ellis, did not travel to Minnesota for Sunday’s matchup after an MRI revealed a disk protrusion which was causing back spasms. The 7-foot center has been one of the most injury-riddled players in the entire association since being taken with the first pick in the 2005 NBA Draft. Bogut, who has been limited to only 12 games since returning from surgery on his troublesome ankle, has not been worth his $13 million price tag since arriving in Oakland. The Warriors hope Bogut can be healthy in time for the playoffs when they will greatly need him for their frontcourt depth.
The Wolves jumped out to a very strong start, taking an 18-6 lead heading into the first timeout and receiving positive contributions from everyone in the starting lineup. At the same time, Stephen Curry picked up two quick fouls and had to take an early seat on the bench. This normally would have been a net-positive for the Wolves, but Jarrett Jack came in and hit two quick three pointers.
If it weren’t for Jack, the Warriors would have been down quite a bit more. Jack had 11 of the Warriors 18 points in the 1st quarter. However, he couldn’t contain the strong play of the Wolves, who filled the highlight reel in the first twelve minutes. Rubio, Pekovic, Kirilenko and Williams all had very strong 1st quarters. At the end of the 1st, the Wolves held a 32-18 lead.
Slowly but surely, the Warriors cut the Pups lead throughout the 2nd quarter. With under a minute to go, Golden State cut the lead to one point due to poor execution on both ends of the court. The quarter got a little chippy between the two teams with Jack and Stiemsma going at it a bit. The officials were letting the teams play through a lot of banging and slapping in the paint.
At the end of the first half, the Wolves held a 55-52 lead. Here are a few halftime thoughts through my Wolves lens:
- Minnesota dominated the paint, particularly in the 1st quarter and needed to revert back to this quickly (36 points for the Pups vs. 20 for GSW in the first half)
- A very nice team effort from the Wolves in the first half, with four players in double digits
- Rubio was doing a little bit of everything – 4 points, rebounds, and steals, to go along with 5 assists
Despite some questionable officiating, the Wolves were able to maintain their lead through the 3rd quarter, going into final 12 minutes, holding an 81-76 lead. Derrick Williams and Ricky Rubio helped lead the charge for the Wolves in the quarter, playing the entire twelve minutes and putting in a number of highlights. In fact, Williams led the Pups with 18 and 11, putting up another double-double in only three quarters.
As mentioned above, the Wolves dropped their tenth game after heading into the final quarter with the lead, which leads the NBA. Minnesota’s woes in the fourth quarter were largely due to their inability to hit the long ball (0-7 in the final quarter) and too many mental and physical mistakes leading to 5 fourth-quarter turnovers. Jack and Curry each hit big shots in the final minute to seal the victory while Minnesota couldn’t buy a basket (AK-47 wide-open airball, Ridnour missed floater).
Keys of the Game
- Three-point Shooting - The most blatant difference between Minnesota and Golden State revolves around the two teams ability (and inability in the Wolves’ case) to knock down three-pointers. The Pups shot a horrendous 1-11 from downtown while the Warriors converted on 7 of their 17 attempts. Jack was an assassin from deep as he drilled 5 of his 7 three-point attempts.
- Free throws - In games that are ultimately separated by a few points, it is easy to point to missed free throws as the scapegoat. While the results of a game extend much further than a couple of missed attempts at the charity stripe, it must be noted how significant Rubio’s only missed free throw was following his and-1 late in the final period. Golden State got it down from the line as they converted 19 of their 23 tries (83%), while Minnesota hit just 24 of their 31 tries.
Three Stars of the Game
- Jarrett Jack - What a game for the Warriors 6-man as he finished the night with 23 points (8-19 FG, 5-7 3PT), 8 assists, 5 rebounds and only 2 turnovers in 36 minutes. Jack, who is playing for his fifth team in eight NBA seasons, is enjoying what may very well be his best season of his career off the bench for the Warriors. The former Georgia Tech standout has become the leader of one of the top second units in the league, and will undoubtedly be a leading candidate for the 2013 Sixth Man of the Year award.
- Ricky Rubio - Although he appeared shook and heartily disappointed with the end result, Ricky provided a ridiculous performance in which he gave a legitimate run at a quadruple-double finishing with the line of 16 points, 11 assists, 8 rebounds, 6 steals and 6 turnovers in 39 minutes for the Wolves. Turnovers were a problem and he had a tough time shooting the ball (3-10 FG), but he affected the game in so many ways that his shortcomings were easily overlooked. The Spaniard gave tremendous effort on both sides of the ball all night and made Stephen Curry earn every point that he got this afternoon.
- David Lee - Big night for the All-Star following a slow start for the big fella. Lee notched a double-double of 22 points and 13 rebounds and was a big part of the Warriors late-game run which culminated in the Warriors stealing a game on the first night of their 5-game road trip.