The Golden State Warriors have had a miserable 2022 on the road, and that clearly didn’t sit well with the team. Two days after avenging an ugly road loss to Dallas, the Warriors took revenge on an even uglier road loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves, defeating them 124-115. In a welcome departure from their recent outside shooting woes, the Warriors hit 21 three-pointers on just 36 attempts, with that scoring coming from, well, everyone.
Steph Curry was 6 of 10 from long-range, the most threes he’s hit in a game since last Christmas. Klay Thompson made 5 of his 9 three-point attempts, which is the first time the Splash Brothers have combined for double-digit threes since Game 5 of the 2019 Finals. New All-Star starter Andrew Wiggins hit 5 out of 8 from deep, upping his three-point percentage above 41%, and not to be left out, Jordan Poole hit 3 out of 4, and matched Wiggins with 19 points. Curry led the way with 26 points, Klay had 23, and Otto Porter Jr. chipped in 11 points of his own.
For Minnesota, it was a two-man show. Karl-Anthony Towns was a beast, at least on offense, pouring in 32 points to go with his 12 rebounds and six assists. Maybe he had a little extra motivation seeing his former teammate get picked to start the All-Star Game? Sophomore phenom Anthony Edwards overcame some horrific early shooting to finish with 27 points, six assists, and six rebounds, plus two blocks. They dearly missed D’Angelo Russell, who left the game for good with 9:22 left in the third quarter after a shin contusion. Without him, Jaylen Nowell and Malik Beasley tried to pick up the scoring load. Instead, they dropped the scoring load all over the ground, combining to go 0-13 from three-point range, and finishing with 10 and 4 points respectively.
The crucial stretch of the game happened, when else, the third quarter. For the second game in a row, the Warriors pounced after an opponent left with an injury, just like they did after Tim Hardaway Jr. broke his foot Tuesday night. But the comeback was already beginning when Russell headed to the locker room. Down 52-48 at the half, the Warriors came out firing. Thompson hit two threes, the second one coming where Russell inexplicably left Klay alone behind the arc in order to double Kevon Looney.
Wiggins followed with a three-pointer off an Otto Porter Jr. offensive board, and then Curry converted a three-point play on Russell’s final appearance. When Curry sunk another triple with 8:40 to go, it capped a 15-4 run which gave the Dubs a 15-4 lead, and forced a Minnesota timeout. Warriors fans are used to it by now, but 15 points in just over three minutes is quite an onslaught, and left the T-Wolves reeling.
Minnesota’s real advantage came inside, where they had a huge size advantage on Kevon Looney and the boys. Looney fouled out in 24 minutes, with four of the fouls coming in the first half. Steve Kerr smartly didn’t overreact, and got 12 big minutes out of him in the second half, when he was +15. Looney finished with seven points and six rebounds, and didn’t foul out until there were 33 second left in the game and the Dubs were up by 13.
Exploiting their superior height, the Wolves closed the gap to two points after two big dunks. Then the Warriors started getting to the line. A Looney offensive rebound led to two Porter free throws, a possession where Minnesota fouled twice. Looney got to the line, Jordan Poole got to the line twice in a row, and suddenly the Warriors were up five and in the bonus with half the quarter left. It was almost impressive - during a two-minute stretch, each player on the court for the Wolves committed one foul.
For the rest of the quarter, the bench led the way. Poole had seven points and three assists, part of his stellar playmaking recently. On one play, he drew four different Minnesota defenders in on a drive before whipping a pass to Wiggins, who scored easily on the scrambling defense.
Gary Payton II’s defense may not have forced the Wolves’ shooting woes from deep, but he certainly didn’t make things easier on offense. And Nemanja Bjelica’s underrated defensive effort continued, as he held Towns to just three points (and scored three himself) after a fifth foul sent Looney to the bench. Overall, it was a 38-20 quarter, closed out by a corner three from the Splash Brother-In-Law.
Minnesota’s last gasp came in a furious rally to start the 4th, where a combination of some lazy Warriors defense and some awesome Anthony Edwards drives led to three Minnesota layups and a quick 10-0 run, cutting the lead to 97-91 and forcing a Kerr timeout. Edwards had 19 of his 27 points in the final quarter, single-handedly keeping Minnesota close.
Of course, Steph Curry also thrives in the fourth quarter. He had 12 points in the final frame, including a three that stretched the lead to eight points with five minutes left, but felt like a dagger. On the next play, Wiggins and Thompson continued their mutual love affair when Wiggs found Klay for a huge three and a double digit lead. Klay threw up the “Three” goggles, not to be confused with the similar “binoculars” gesture he displays after a keen pass.
Klay had found Wiggins for three a minute earlier, and had four assists for the game. That’s ten in the last two games for Thompson, who is clearly auditioning for the third-string job. Maybe he’s read what people say about Chris Chiozza online?
Even with Edwards going 7/10, the Wolves never got closer than eight points the rest of the way, with the Warriors answering nearly every Wolves bucket with one of their own. It was a classic unguardable Splash Brothers performance, but with the addition of an extra sharpshooter in Wiggins and a Barbosa-esque Poole dribbling through entire teams.
It didn’t look promising early, when Minnesota opened the game with an 8-0 run. Two Warriors turnovers and two Wolves’ triples put the Dubs in a quick hole, But by the halfway point of the quarter, four of the five starters had sunk three-pointers and the game was tied 14-all. After a whole lot of Golden State fouls - they had seven in the quarter - it was all tied up 29-29 after the first.
Towns continued to dominated in the second quarter, putting up 12 more points. He had 23 at halftime, though only 9 more for the rest of the game. KAT is wildly talented, and a fantastic shooter, but it felt like he lost heart after the Warriors came back in the third quarter. Perhaps he got jealous of his old friend Andrew escaping his doomed franchise, or the 12-degree weather waiting for him back home.
The main problem was that the team’s stellar three-point shooting left them for one quarter, and they went only 2/9 from deep. Of course, that means they shot 19 for 27, a seventy percent clip, in the other three. They stayed in the game and only trailed by four at halftime in part thanks to Jordan Poole’s hesitation drives and soft left-handed finishes, which he scored on multiple times last night.
This was Curry’s 803rd game for the Warriors, which tied Chris Mullin for the franchise record. It was also his 172nd straight game making a three-pointer, which extends his record. Previously that record was held by a guy named Wardell.
The Timberwolves fell to 24-24 on the season, while the Warriors won their fourth game in a row to get to 36-13. What a difference a week makes for Golden State, who were reeling after dropping an OT game to Indiana just nine days ago. They remain three games behind the Phoenix Suns in the West, and Saturday welcome the 4th-place team in the East, the Brooklyn Nets. No Kevin Durant, but the Nets will still have former Warriors coach Steve Nash, former nemesis Kyrie Irving, and former failed rival James Harden. Can they deal a blow to the Nets’ playoff hopes and vaccine disinformation all at once? Tune in to ESPN at 5:30 Saturday to find out.