Minnesota got off to a slow start early and trailed 16-6, but it wasn’t enough to prevent the Wolves from coming back to earn a decisive victory. Granted, it’s the preseason, but several positive developments took place that are worth noting.
The Wolves pulled away late to win by a 111-95 margin. Karl-Anthony Towns and Jimmy Butler led Minnesota with 16 points apiece while Andrew Wiggins added 14. Taj Gibson added 13 points while playing a team-high 28 minutes.
It was the starting unit that got off to the slow start. Jeff Teague looked like he was still functioning on Central time in the first half, which resulted in offensive discombobulation and a lag on the defensive end. Minnesota forced up too many contested long twos and a few contested threes while Golden State was, well, Golden State.
The Wolves closed the gap during the starting unit’s second stint, which essentially took up the end of the first half and most of the third quarter. Defensive intensity picked up and the combination of Wiggins and Butler took turns putting together scoring spurts.
Tom Thibodeau’s bench unit eventually overtook the lead in the fourth quarter and never looked back. Shabazz Muhammad provided his usual combination of scoring and energetic rebounding. Gorgui Dieng brought a chippy attitude that is rare in the preseason. And for once, Nemanja Bjelica played as if the game wasn’t moving too fast for him.
Kevin Durant led the Warriors with 20 points in 25 minutes, knocking down an array of tough jumpers which is pretty much the norm. He continues to be completely unfair to any defender that is forced to match up with him. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson added 14 and 13 points, respectively, for the Warriors.
Minnesota’s preseason schedule wraps up early Sunday morning with a rematch against the Warriors in China at 6 a.m.
- Taj Gibson’s sudden cold-blooded sniping from beyond the three-point arc opens up so many doors for the starting unit. It offers more spacing for Towns, Butler and Wiggins in isolation sets and provides another perimeter shooter to kick too. Is Gibson’s recent success from deep sustainable? Probably not, but it’d be cool.
- The Butler-Towns two-man game will be fun once it becomes a regular thing. We got to see a pretty fun impromptu version of it early in this game.
- Tyus Jones was the first point guard off the bench once again, and it appears as if that role is his to lose. His calculated style of play is a solid fit with the rest of the bench, but he will always be at a disadvantage defensively due to his size.
- Andrew Wiggins has become very good at basket-cutting when a teammate is attacking the rim, which creates passing lanes and he is able to use his athleticism to generate momentum to the hoop. If he gets a well-timed pass as he makes his cut, Wiggins almost always scores points with dunks, layups or free throws.
- A new chippy attitude was presented by the Wolves bench that few people saw coming. Shabazz Muhammad picked a fight with JaVale McGee and Dieng committed a flagrant foul in retaliation of a blow to the face from David West. In the long run, a nasty attitude probably bodes well for this team.
- Minnesota’s defensive rotations were slow to begin the game but appeared to fix themselves after the first quarter. Gibson and Butler are already having a positive impact on that end of the floor.