In a game that hardly mattered for either team, the Warriors came into Target Center and did what they do best to outwork the Wolves on their own court. While this win puts Golden State up by half a game over the Denver Nuggets for first place in the Western Conference, there is little to no concern that the Warriors’ postseason fate will come down to what seeding they draw come April.
As such, Golden State looked comfortable and at ease all night, despite being on the second night of a back-to-back road stretch. Even though the Wolves broke out of the gate strong in the first quarter – at one point going on a 20-2 run – the Warriors dominated most of this one with a combination of (what else?) impeccable passing and unprecedented shooting.
Like most of the games the Wolves play against teams that have promptly adapted to the new era of the NBA, the three-point differential was the defining factor in tonight’s matchup. The Warriors nailed 45 percent of their threes (19-42) compared to the Wolves’ 25 percent (9-36). It was one of those games where Steph Curry and Klay Thompson could not be matched: Curry ended up with 36 points (8-14 from deep) while Thompson finished with 28 points (15 of which came in the first quarter).
But if Golden State’s starters weren’t enough for Minnesota, their bench gave the Wolves’ paper thin rotation some trouble too. Jonas Jerebko looked like a freaking All-Star, finishing with 18 points and four rebounds while going 3-4 from deep. To make matters worse, Taj Gibson left the game early with a left calf strain, adding to the Wolves’ mounting injury woes.
The Wolves showed flashes of their own tonight, however. Karl-Anthony Towns seems like he loves to compete against this team, and he showed that tonight with a montage of step-back threes, feisty rebounds and strong finishes at the rim. Andrew Wiggins also finished with a fine game (20/8/6), and played some solid defense that kept Kevin Durant relatively quiet all night. But his outside shooting was agonizing to watch all game, where he went 1-8.
Tyus Jones looked like he might bounce back strong after a tough outing against Houston on Sunday – and he did have some smart plays on defense to break things up when the Warriors started rolling – but he shot just 21 percent from the floor and missed a lot of those falling layups at the rim that ultimately led to transition points for Golden State.
Down by as many as 20 in this one, the Wolves managed to chip away and bring things back within 10 toward the end of the game, but it was never truly that close. The Warriors were cracking smiles all night like they were in on some big inside joke, and they hardly even broke a sweat when they were down by as many as 13. In case it comes as any surprise, Golden State is leagues ahead of this Timberwolves team, and – injuries notwithstanding – this team’s rotation is looking like a tough bet to make it anywhere meaningful in the years to come. Minnesota’s front office needs to do everything in its power to get Karl-Anthony Towns some legitimate support before we have another Kevin Garnett situation on our hands.