The Golden State Warriors Stephen Curry (30) struggles on offense against the Minnesota Timberwolves Ricky Rubio (9) on Thu Apr 29, 2021 at the Target Center in Minneapolis (AP News photo)
By Jerry Feitelberg
The Golden State Warriors (31-32) started the final four-game road trip of the season on a sour note Thursday night at the Target Center in Minneapolis. Then suddenly resurgent Minnesota Timberwolves (20-44) played well in the final 12 minutes of the game to down the Warriors 126-114.
The Timberwolves have won their last four in a row and six of the last eight. Even though the Warriors lost, it was not all bad news. The Warriors will benefit if Minnesota continues to play well. If Minnesota does not finish in the top three in the lottery, the Warriors will get their first-round draft pick.
The Timberwolves currently have the third-worst record in the NBA. The Pick would not go to the Golden State if the season ended today. The Wolves, however, may pass either Detroit or Oklahoma City in the standings. If they do, the Warriors will get the pick.
The Warriors were without the services of forward Kelly Oubre, Jr. Thursday night. Oubre has been an offensive sparkplug coming off the bench. His absence meant the Warriors were down to eight players. Kent Bazemore was back in the lineup after missing several games due to NBA Covid-19 protocols.
The teams played a hotly contested game for all four quarters. The Timberwolves, coached by former Toronto Raptor assistant coach Chris Finch, took a page out of the Raptors’ playbook. Finch has his team double team, Stephen Curry, all night long. The Timberwolves decided to stop Steph and let the other four players on the court figure out how to beat them.
The Plan worked in the first quarter. The Timberwolves held Curry to five points in the first twelve minutes of action. Andrew Wiggins, facing his former teammates, carried the water for the Warriors. The game was tied at 25-25 when Minnesota went on a 10-0 run to finish the quarter leading 35-25.
The Warriors’ second unit went on a 10-2 run early in the second quarter to get within four 39-35. The Warriors trailed until late in the first half until Curry got hot. Curry made a three to make it 55-54. The Wolves connected on a three to go ahead by four. Curry made two frees, then made a steal and a bucket to tie the game, 58-58. The Timberwolves scored the last bucket of the first half to lead 60-58. Andrew Wiggins paced the Warrior attack with 18 points. Steph had 13. Karl-Anthony Towns led the Wolves with 11. Veteran guard Rickey Rubio had 10. The Timberwolves were 10-for-21 from three-point range.
The Timberwolves started the third quarter on an 8-0 run to lead 68-58. The Warriors did not fold. They fought back but could not get the lead back. The Warriors tied the game 87-87. Minnesota responded with a two-point basket to lead 89-87. Curry made a four-point play to give the Warriors the lead 91-87. Minnesota scored a basket and the third quarter ended with the Warriors ahead by two.
As per head coach Steve Kerr’s plans, Curry and Draymond Green would sit on the bench for about the first six minutes of the fourth quarter. The Warriors second unit had their work cut out for them. The Wolves star rookie, Anthony Edwards, came out firing.
The Warriors had no answer. Minnesota went on a 10-2 run to lead 106-99. The Timberwolves’ defense stopped the Warriors’ offense in the last six minutes of the game. Minnesota continued to make three-pointers. Karl-Anthony Towns and Juancho Hernangomez made back-to-back threes to go ahead by ten 117-107. The Warriors ran out of time, and they lost by a final score of 126-114.
Game Notes and Stats: With the loss, The Warriors are 31-32 for the season with nine games left on the schedule. The Timberwolves are 20-44.
The Warriors had five players in double figures. Curry led the team with 37 points, six rebounds, and eight assists. Curry was 11-for-27 from the floor, and he made six threes in 17 tries. Wiggins finished with 27 points, four boards, three assists, and made three threes in six attempts.
Green had 11 points, five boards, and five assists. Bazemore had a double-double with ten points and ten rebounds. Mychal Mulder had 11. As a team, the Warriors shot 49% from the floor. They made 15 threes in 38 attempts. The taller Timberwolf team outrebounded them 68-41. The Wolves pulled down 16 offensive rebounds. The Warriors had four.
Anthony Edwards led the Timberwolves with 25 points. Town had a double-double with 22 points and 11 boards. Ricky Rubio had 22. Rubio knocked down five threes. Naz Reid had 13. The Timberwolves made 20 three-point shots in 41 tries. Teams with 20 threes and shoot about 50% are 43-0.
The Warriors tipoff against the Rockets in Houston Saturday night, The game will start at 4:30 pm.