Kelley L Cox-US PRESSWIRE
The Golden State Warriors started their three-game road trip with a solid win against the short-handed Minnesota Timberwolves. The Dubs won behind .506 shooting and a massive 14 rebound edge on the boards. Like most games so far this season, it didn't follow the script. Or did it?
Not the script? The poor-shooting first quarter, the comeback second quarter? Yeah, it followed that one. But the part where the Warriors get beaten up in the paint, can't drive and finish, and have to count on three-point shots because Minnesota's defense won't let them get anything else? Not so much. The script where AK47 guns down Harrison Barnes? Not at all.
Raining bullets? More like a drought
Instead, Barnes played Andrei Kirilenko head to head, and gave as good as he got. The first period saw AK score the first seven Wolves points and nine of his 18, leading Minnesota to a 27-22 margin at the end of the quarter. When he returned at the 5:56 mark of the second period, the Wolves were up by 10. Kirilenko didn't score for the rest of the half, had an offensive foul, and grabbed one rebound. The Warriors outscored the Wolves by 13 in that period, with Barnes picking up 2 rebounds, an assist, and 4 points. Both players finished the night with 18 points - Kirilenko added 6 boards,4 blocks and 3 turnovers, while Barnes had 9 rebounds, 2 assists, and one turnover. From one point of view, Barnes neutralized Kirilenko, allowing his teammates to dispatch the rest of the Wolves.
How do they do that?
Once more, the small-ball pairing of Carl Landry and David Lee produced for the Dubs, with a +7 point margin while playing together. Once again the pair on the floor out rebounded their opponents. Coach Mark Jackson seems to have found a solid formula in playing them together for about 15 minutes per game. Lee finished with 18 points, 13 rebounds and 3 assists; Landry with 15, 7, and 2 blocks. Derrick Williams finally having a decent game for the Wolves with 23 points and 7 rebounds wasn't enough inside.
Countering the idea that Landry and Lee duplicate each other, their games seem complementary on the floor. And while the argument can be made that this roster isn't designed for small-ball, the versatility is becoming apparent.
Outside looking in
Our perimeter game continues to suffer, as the Warriors combined for 2-15 three-point shooting. Despite that, and despite going 0-3 from deep, Stephen Curry finished with 17 points on .583 shooting with 4 rebs, 6 assists, a steal and a block before fouling out late in the fourth quarter. Despite missing the entire fourth quarter with flu-like symptoms, Klay Thompson recovered slightly from his terrible shooting night against Atlanta, going 5 of 14 for 12 points. Alexey Shved had a solid game off the bench for Minnesota with 22 points and 7 assists, while Malcolm Lee didn't score as a starter.
Jarrett Jack, Andris Biedrins, and Festus Ezeli filled their roles admirably. Richard Jefferson had a weak night, something we'll probably continue to see regularly. For those complaining, it might be good to remember that he's not big enough to put at center, so we're at least spared a VladRad reprise.
Tonight's Warrior Wonder is Charles Jenkins. Playing the last 4:46 of the game when Curry fouled out, Jenkins scored 4 crucial points in crunch time and played with the poise befitting last year's Timberwolves trapper.
A solid win, lots to work on - and on to Oklahoma City to face the Thunder Sunday.