After dispatching the New York Knicks with a solid-if-unspectacular victory on Tuesday night, the Warriors welcomed the Minnesota Timberwolves to Oracle Arena for a Thursday night showdown. The Timberwolves boasted the fourth-best record in the Western Conference, so this would be a good regular-season test for the Warriors, even though the Timberwolves would be without All-Star shooting guard Jimmy Butler. But behind their two team staples— three-pointers and ball movement— the Warriors never trailed at any point against the Timberwolves on their way to the 126-113 victory.
The Warriors put on a three-point shooting exhibition against the Timberwolves
The Warriors were dialed in from three-point range on Thursday night. Leading the way was Klay Thompson, who made seven shots from long distance, which tied his season high from three-point range. Four of those came in the third quarter when Thompson was perfect from three-point range.
Thompson finished Thursday night’s game against the Timberwolves with 25 points, bouncing back after two games in which he only had single-digit point totals. Thompson’s seven three-pointers were part of the Warriors 21 three-pointers as a team, which was a new season high for them.
Andre Iguodala, meanwhile, may have only made one three-point shot, but it certainly
Andre's like "Anything you can do I can do better Steph"— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) January 26, 2018
Pull-up Triple ✅ pic.twitter.com/WxL9CwFE5Y
Iguodala finished the game with 10 points, his most since the January 4th road victory over the Houston Rockets. Against the Timberwolves, Iguodala looked like... well, like Iguodala.
The veteran wing has had his share of struggles and rough performances this season, but if he’s starting to get up to speed around the All-Star break so that he’s peaking as the playoffs roll around... that bodes well for the Warriors championship prospects.
In a game that featured spectacular three-point shooting, it’s not surprising that Stephen Curry featured prominently. Curry went five for nine from three-point range, including this one in the fourth quarter that served as the dagger and punctuated the Warriors victory.
Curry matched his fellow Splash Brother Thompson with 25 points as the Timberwolves had no way of stopping the Warriors offense when those two were shooting that well from three-point range. As a team, the Warriors shot 56.8% from beyond the arc, taking advantage of a Timberwolves team that is very average when it comes to their opponent’s three-point field goal percentage.
On his way to a triple-double, Durant’s passing prowess shines
The Warriors were not only impressive in their three-point shooting but in their passing as well. Once again, the Warriors finished with over 30 assists, tallying 37 in total against the Timberwolves. In fact, they reached the 30-assist plateau in the third quarter, with 12 more minutes of basketball left to play. One of those assists came here on a great no-look pass from Curry to set up the Kevin Durant three-pointer.
Curry finished the game with nine assists, which was the second-most by a Warriors player as Durant finished the game with 11 assists. It was the first time in his career Durant has had back-to-back games with 10 or more assists. Ros Gold-Onwude brought this up in her postgame interview with Durant.
"Well, finally someone picked me number one. That feels pretty good. It's going to be fun competing against Steph, Klay and Draymond." - @KDTrey5 on being selected first for #TeamLeBron and going up against @warriors teammates— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) January 26, 2018
: @ROSGO21 pic.twitter.com/jrPNz7iUb8
In addition to those 11 assists, Durant also scored a team-high 28 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to earn the tenth triple-double of his illustrious career. Because all some people care about are triple-doubles, it was nice to see Durant get one so people will pay attention to how great he’s been playing.
The nuances, the things in Durant’s game that couldn’t be seen when he was forced to shoulder so much of the load in Oklahoma City, continue to stand out for the All-Star forward. While these things are not totally new, Durant has been able to cultivate them and put them on fuller display since coming to the Warriors. Durant might have been the league’s best scorer while playing for the Thunder, but coming to the Warriors has allowed him to be perhaps the league’s best player. Games like this, where he’s able to dominate by scoring as well as passing, reflect that development.
Crawford and Towns shine, but Wiggins underwhelms
With Butler missing the game, the Timberwolves were going to need a big night out of their other All-Star— Karl-Anthony Towns. Towns certainly did not disappoint, scoring 31 points while pulling down 11 rebounds.
The player who really stepped up on Thursday night was two-time Sixth Man of the Year Award winner (and former Warrior) Jamal Crawford. Coming off of the bench, Crawford scored 21 points, the most he’s scored since a mid-December game against the Portland Trail Blazers.
While Towns was his usual impressive self and Crawford provided a pleasant boost off of the bench, one player who did not play well for the Timberwolves was Andrew Wiggins. Wiggins scored just 10 points while shooting 22.2% from the field. It was a very uninspiring performance by a player who just signed a very large multi-year contract.
At various points throughout this game, I found myself forgetting that Wiggins was even on the floor, which is not a good sign when you are a player who possesses the ability and prestige Wiggins does. If the Timberwolves are going to make any noise in the playoffs, they’re going to need to get more out of Wiggins, even when Butler is playing.
The Hamptons 5 close it out
Head coach Steve Kerr has not been using the “Death Lineup” or what is now known as the Hamptons 5, all that much this season. There isn’t just one reason for this and it’s not necessarily a bad thing (because of how well he’s played with the Warriors four All-Stars, rookie Jordan Bell has occasionally earned playing time with that lineup). But part of it has been because that lineup has not been as effective as it was in the past.
But tonight, when the Timberwolves closed the gap in the fourth quarter, Kerr elected to go with the famed Curry-Thompson-Iguodala-Durant-Green pairing and it worked out quite well.
Best Hamptons 5 has looked in a long time. Currently +7 in this run, +11 overall.— Tim Kawakami (@timkawakami) January 26, 2018
It was fun to see that lineup out there against the Timberwolves and being productive. Perhaps it was because Kerr canceled the Thursday shootaround that this lineup had so much bounce in its step. Or perhaps it’s because, as we’ve hit the season’s halfway point and will shortly be at the All-Star break, the team is starting to really focus as they begin to gear up for another postseason run?
The Warriors will look to duplicate this impressive performance on Saturday night, when they welcome Kyrie Irving and Eastern Conference-leading Boston Celtics to Oracle Arena for a potential NBA Finals preview.
Who was the Warrior Wonder in the win over the TWolves?
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