Let’s start with a disclaimer of sorts. The Minnesota Timberwolves have been playing good basketball lately. Their Thursday night win over the Golden State Warriors gives them a four-game winning streak, with half of those wins coming against the elite Utah Jazz.
So it’s not like the Dubs were playing against your college’s intramural squad.
The Warriors have been playing very well lately, the disaster against Dallas notwithstanding. They pride themselves as a team that should be rising up the standings. They have arguably the best player in the world, and every possible reason to try their hardest to win games.
The Wolves, even with their current winning streak, are 24 games below .500. They are not incentivized to win games (quite the opposite really, as the better their record the worse their chances of keeping their draft pick).
The Warriors lost. The Warriors lost comfortably. The Warriors lost by coming out of the gates slowly (they were outscored 35-25 in the first quarter), and finishing off with neither vim nor vigor (they were outscored 37-23 in the final frame).
The Warriors lost because, frankly, they look both incapable of and uninterested in winning games that are important for their survival and well-being. It doesn’t exactly inspire hope for the upcoming play-in game.
The Warriors lost in large part because they operated in no man’s land for much of the game. They played too big to exploit the Wolves in transition, but too small to match up with Minnesota’s size. They only had 8 fastbreak points but were out-rebounded by a terrifying margin of 23 boards.
That was kind of it.
The Warriors shot better on twos and free throws than the Wolves, and a little worse on threes. They had a similar amount of assists, the same amount of fouls, and fewer turnovers. But they attempted nine fewer shots and eight fewer free throws, and lost 126-114. Because Minnesota had so many more possessions.
Steph Curry, as he is prone to doing, had some mesmerizing moments, and finished with 37 points, 6 rebounds, 8 assists, and 2 steals. But he didn’t have his most efficient night (11-for-27 from the field) and, against a Minnesota defense that seemed focused on only him, had an uncharacteristically poor night at the rim, making just 4-of-9 in the paint.
Andrew Wiggins, playing against the Wolves in Minnesota for the first time, kept the team in the game in the first half, and finished with 27 points on 11-for-20 shooting. The team played strong defense on Karl-Anthony Towns, who looked uncomfortable all night and shot just 6-for-18.
But Ricky Rubio and Anthony Edwards torched the Warriors and ... honestly, that kind of says it all.
The Warriors are now below .500 again, and it feels right.
But hey, at least there’s Trey Lance.