The Minnesota Timberwolves hung around but ultimately lost to the Golden State Warriors on the road on Thursday night.
Takeaways from Minnesota Timberowlves’ loss to Golden State Warriors
It seemed almost scripted that the Minnesota Timberwolves were slated to play the Warriors the night that Andrew Wiggins was named an All-Star starter.
Wiggins’ selection on Thursday afternoon drew a fair amount of incredulity on social media, in part because former teammate Karl-Anthony Towns was one of the names some thought to be more deserving, so it added a fun extra spice to the night’s game at the Chase Center.
The game was a microcosm of the season and why Wiggins got a surprising number of votes: Towns was clearly the better and more dominant player, but Wiggins played his lesser role perfectly and got more help from a superior supporting cast in Golden State’s 124-115 win.
Towns came out in full attack mode, scoring 23 of his 31 points in the first half while avoiding some of that “stray voltage” that can derail him at times. Golden State simply didn’t have the size to handle him around the basket, and he brought his usual flash of perimeter skill.
Wiggins, on the other hand, scored an efficient 19 with 5-of-8 3-point shooting, but he wasn’t the star of the night for the Warriors. Klay Thompson played by far his best game since returning from his years-long absence, contributing 23 points and making five of nine threes. Steph Curry and Jordan Poole added 29 and 19, respectively.
Here are three other takeaways from a fun game.
1. Warriors roll over Timberwolves in third quarter
The Warriors under Steve Kerr have always been known for their dominance in the third quarter. Given that this year’s team boasted a whopping plus-16.8 net rating in the period entering the night, maybe we should have seen the massacre coming.
Minnesota came out of halftime leading 61-57, but the Warriors jumped on them almost immediately from there. A few threes from Thompson, Wiggins, and Curry had Golden State on a 15-4 run and with a seven-point lead just 3:20 into the quarter, and from there Minnesota was behind the eight-ball.
Golden State won the period 38-20 to turn a four-point deficit to a 14-point lead and effectively end the game. The Warriors started double- and triple-teaming Towns and daring other Timberwolves to make shots; needless to say, no one was up to the challenge.
D’Angelo Russell’s departure with a left shin contusion only minutes into the period was a tough blow that hurt the team on both ends. Minnesota lost a crucial offensive threat that could keep Golden State honest and their primary defensive communicator. The Wolves looked dazed trying to keep up with the constant ball movement, which resulted in 31 Warriors assists on the night.
Chris Finch isn’t the first coach to be outdone by Steve Kerr in halftime adjustments, and he certainly won’t be the last.
2. Timberwolves leave Towns high and dry
As great as Towns was, especially in the first half, his teammates pulled him down to their level in the latter portions of the game.
The only player who performed up to or above his usual standards was Jaden McDaniels, who scored 14 points and made three of his five threes. Russell gets an incomplete grade, but he wasn’t exactly lighting the world on fire before he left.
The box score won’t necessarily show it, but Anthony Edwards carries a big responsibility for the outcome. He finished with 27 points but had just eight through three quarters. By the time he came alive in the final 12 minutes, Golden State was playing from ahead and with confidence.
Minnesota needed that extra scoring punch in the third quarter when Towns was stymied by the wall of bodies coming at him. Consistency and awareness of when to pick your spots comes with age, but it is something Edwards needs to learn moving forward. Right now, the Edwards experience is a bit too much of a roller coaster
Malik Beasley didn’t make a single one of his eight 3-point attempts and Jaylen Nowell’s 10 points came on 16 shots. This game was as good an argument as any for the Timberwolves adding more playmaking and scoring before the trade deadline.
3. A huge 3-point differential between the Timberwolves and Warriors
It might be shocking to hear, but it’s hard for teams to win games in which they’re outscored by 33 from behind the arc.
That Minnesota kept this game competitive is pretty impressive given the difference in shooting accuracy. Golden State exploded for a 21-of-36 mark from downtown, combining deep pull-ups with wide-open looks off beautifully executed plays.
Minnesota simply didn’t do the job on the usual suspects. Curry, Poole, Thompson, and Wiggins combine to take over 80 percent of the Warriors’ threes on a per-game basis, and Minnesota let those four players combine to score 57 points from behind the arc all by themselves. All four shot above 50 percent from deep.
The Warriors made seven of their first eight 3-pointers for 21 of their first 23 points. Minnesota let Curry and Klay Thompson trot down the floor into wide-open transition looks on multiple occasions, which is not a reliable defensive approach against two of the greatest shooters ever.
The Wolves, meanwhile, couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn, as evidenced by their ghastly 10-of-44 3-point shooting. McDaniels was the only Timberwolf to make more than two long-range shots.
Minnesota falls back to .500 at 24-24 ahead of an even tougher task: the second night of a road back-to-back in Phoenix against the Suns, who own the league’s best record.