Warriors final: Clean 2nd half leaves Timberwolves dumbfounded, 96-85

Kyle Terada-US PRESSWIRE

Well, they battled. You can't say Coach Mark Jackson is wrong. After a first half of some downright hideous basketball, your Golden State Warriors found a way to tighten it up, toughen it out, and beat the Minnesota Timberwolves going away.


Final - 11.24.2012 1 2 3 4 Total
Minnesota Timberwolves 18 33 23 11 85
Golden State Warriors 16 31 23 26 96

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Before we go any further, let's have a quick look at the standings, courtesy of Warriors Phenom:

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Hard to argue with that analysis!

Listen, we'll get to the dunk. I don't know if it's even worth talking about at this point; you've all watched it roughly 254,139,129 times each. But let's get through some of the nit and grit first.

This contest started out begging to be labeled ugly. Neither team was executing well offensively, there wasn't much flow to the game, and both teams were making their own mistakes: the Warriors were turning it over as rapidly as space and time allowed, and the Wolves couldn't throw the ball into the ocean. Depending on whether you were a pessimistic Wolves fan or a pessimistic Warriors fan (because judging by game threads, these are the only two categories existent in this meeting), you were either going to claim that the Wolves were lucky to be in the game at all, let alone up by 2, after leaving the barn's broadside unscathed — or claim that the Warriors were lucky to only be down by 2, after gifting the ball away like Santa on Christmas Eve.

Let's make sure we're all on the same page here: poor 1st quarter offensive efficiency? Check. Five turnovers in the quarter? Check. Four offensive rebounds lost to the opposition? Check. Pessimism intact? Checkmate.

And the turnovers continued. And these were of the ugly variety (though I'm doubtful there are any other kinds). Lazy passes, boneheaded passes, bad ball security on drives and face-ups. The Warriors finished the 2nd quarter with five more TOs, ending with a TO differential of -8. In one half. Meanwhile Minnesota remembered how to score in this quarter. The Dubs were still only down by four af the half, somewhat miraculously, thanks in large part to our backcourt coming alive from the perimeter, and everybody going to work on the boards.

Oh, and this also happened in the 2nd quarter:


(via gumbywithpokey)

Completely serious question: is that the best dunk from a Warrior since Baron Davis dropped the anvil on Kirilenko in '07? Once the shock subsided, I was on my feet looking for high-fives wherever I could get them. (I then remembered I was watching the game alone, shed a single tear, and moved on.)

Despite the glorious destruction Harrison Barnes unleashed upon Pekovic, the half ended with yet another instance of a Warrior choosing to launch a long three pointer with 10 seconds left on the clock, rather than close out the half with the final shot. This led to a breakaway dunk and a 4-point deficit. Of course it did.

The 3rd quarter continued the preeminent theme of ugly, with more poor shooting from both teams, and five more offensive rebounds going to the Wolves. But the Warriors played them even, finishing the quarter with the same 4-point deficit. How? Zero turnovers. And this I think was a big key to this game.

The 2012 Warriors are a good rebounding team, and decent enough defensively, that they can stay in games, even when they're not shooting the ball well. Thankfully that seems to be less of a concern, in large part because Steph Curry and Klay Thompson seem to be fully emerged from their slumps. But what IS a concern, and what has done this team in, are turnovers and fouls. And this game had been shaping up to be another one of those missed opportunities, handed to the other team on a silver platter of carelessness.

But they fixed the turnover problem in the 3rd. And I really think it did something for their confidence: they came back in the 4th quarter with resolve, with an attitude of, "look, we're better than this, we just showed it — we are NOT going to give this game away". The guys deserve credit for taking care of the ball, and Mark Jackson should get some for probably yelling at them about it at halftime.

Another big key to this victory? I'll put that award solely in Coach Jackson's hands. He went small, shifting Carl Landry to center and Draymond Green to PF, and keeping Steph and Jarrett Jack on the court to force Adelman's counter of Ridnour and Barea. Landry went to work in the paint, and Green basically shut down Kevin Love. They were able to more than double the Wolves' rebounding, giving them a taste of their own medicine with five offensive boards. And suddenly, the Wolves just didn't seem to have an answer. They weren't getting the same turnovers they were forcing earlier in the game, and their offense fell off a cliff without production from Love and a hapless, overmatched backcourt.

And so the Warriors won by 11, in a game that started out looking like it'd be the victim of self-inflicted doom. They battled, they didn't get their heads down, and they found a way to win.

Warrior_wonder_medium

There are a few deserving guys here. Carl Landry was so aggressive, countering what should have been a Wolves advantage down low; the 10/10 FTs were huge. Barnes also had a nice game, with the dunk of course, but also the 11 rebounds to lead the team. But in the end, I have to give it to Stephen Curry. He was looking to get his teammates involved, nailed five 3s, and didn't have a single turnover in the second half.

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