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Third quarter explosion puts Warriors over Wolves, 121-107

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After a meh first half, the Warriors found their mojo in the third quarter to secure the win against the Timberwolves, 121-107.

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Golden State Warriors Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

One day before Steve Kerr infamously sat Stephen Curry, Andre Iguodala, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green (as well as the injured Kevin Durant) against the San Antonio Spurs, the Warriors lost a hard-fought game against the Timberwolves in Minneapolis. The young team, led by rising star Karl-Anthony Towns, seems well-equipped to handle the Warriors’ elite shooting and defensive versatility now and in coming years.

Early in Tuesday’s game, the Wolves kept apace with the Dubs, who struggled to rebound and avoid fouling shooters. Ricky Rubio continued his stellar play, outplaying Stephen Curry in the first half with good defense and hot midrange shooting. Karl-Anthony Towns also found good looks inside despite Draymond Green’s best efforts. The Warriors allowed eight offensive boards and five and-1 plays in the first half, with mediocre defense to boot.

Fortunately, like many times this season, the Warriors turned it on the third quarter. Steph Curry and Klay Thompson put together a highlight reel of explosive plays, while the Warriors’ bench hit shot after shot to put the Timberwolves away. Even without Kevin Durant, the Warriors have consistently shown elite offense and defense throughout this twelve-game win streak.

Klay Thompson led the way with a quiet 41 points, while Stephen Curry added 19 points and nine assists. Matt Barnes ended up with a nice 12-6-4 line, hitting open threes and showcasing his skills as a point-forward playmaker.

Though Stephen Curry’s reemergence as a MVP-caliber player is a significant storyline, the Warriors’ bench’s improved play in recent weeks is just as important. Today, strong performances from David West, Andre Iguodala, and JaVale McGee helped the Dubs extend their lead when some of the starters were sitting.

When Kevin Durant returns (he’s scheduled to play this Saturday), the Warriors won’t have much time to reincorporate him into the rotation before the playoffs begin. But because they’ve been playing so well, the Warriors don’t need Kevin Durant to be at 100% immediately, and will likely ease him back into action.

What’s most important, though, is how the offense will look with Kevin Durant’s return. I hope Steve Kerr has realized that Stephen Curry and the pick and roll need to be the focal point of the offense. The Warriors still haven’t fully figured out when plays like isolation scoring and unselfish ball movement will and won’t succeed, and the clock is ticking. The playoffs begin in just eleven days.

The Clips

Closing Thoughts

  • At the beginning of the season, there were some who doubted that David West would be a valuable player come playoff time for the Warriors. Clearly, he’s proven the haters wrong: his passing and defense make him an indispensable part of the bench. It’s so great to have him.
  • The Warriors need two more wins (or two Spurs losses) to clinch the first seed in the Western Conference. With that likely to happen, the Warriors will face either the Nuggets or Trail Blazers in the first round. They’re currently neck-and-neck.
  • The Warriors look pretty good right now!