Warriors dispose of Timberwolves via first-quarter explosion
A 25-2 run highlighted a first quarter Golden State won 47-27.
MINNEAPOLIS -- One four-minute stretch in the first quarter all but put Minnesota to bed early Sunday afternoon at Target Center.
The matinee with Golden State was knotted at 15-15 a few minutes into the game. Then the Warriors flexed their muscles and essentially ended the contest.
A 25-2 run highlighted a first quarter Golden State won 47-27. Minnesota never really challenged from there en route to a 137-114 defeat.
“Obviously, that was everything,” Timberwolves coach Chris Finch said. “Then you have to make all the great plays, all the shots, and get all the calls and all the 50-50 balls and all that. And then they’re just one or two shots from breaking the game open again. So that was pretty much the story of the game — they blew us out in the first quarter.”
Minnesota made mini-pushes throughout the remainder of the contest, as NBA teams are expected to do. But the Wolves would trim the deficit to 14 or 15, only to have Golden State bury another key triple.
The Timberwolves cut Golden State’s advantage to 10 midway through the final frame — for the first time since that first-quarter run — only to have the Warriors hit three triples in succession to balloon the lead back to 19 in a blink of an eye.
“Guys need to defend. We need to defend better. We’ve got to be better. We gave them 50 points in the first quarter, man,” said Austin Rivers, who started in place of an ill Jaden McDaniels. “I don’t know how many games you’re going to win, no matter who you play if you’re doing that, let alone that team — the best team in the NBA. I don’t care what their record is, they’re by the far the best team. We can’t give a team like that a 25-point head start. We’ll be better tomorrow.”
Minnesota travels to the nation’s capital Monday to play the Wizards. Everything will need to be different. Because while Golden State did shine Sunday, Minnesota made it easy for the Warriors to do so. Anthony Edwards tried to write off the first-quarter explosion as supreme shot making — “What are we supposed to do?” the guard asked.
But a number of the Warriors’ first-quarter makes were products of easy buckets scored in transition — sometimes off Wolves’ makes. Golden State plays fast, but the Warriors’ starting lineup also isn’t full of young, athletic phenoms. The Warriors are a veteran-laden group who simply knew the scouting report against Minnesota is to run, and let the easy buckets come from there.
“Obviously they know we have two bigs – it’s obvious. Teams are going to try to run and go fast paced and that’s what we’re doing, and we’re struggling with it a little bit,” Rivers said. “I think getting back is just crucial right now, especially the three guards. When that shot goes up, I mean they crushed us tonight in the fast breaks. They had leak outs, they were running the floor, they got anything they wanted. Especially in the first quarter, was disgusting.”
Golden State shot 58 percent from the field for the game, and 43 percent from deep. The Warriors had six players score in double figures, led by 25 from Steph Curry and 24 from Jordan Poole, while Draymond Green added 19 points and 11 assists.
“If you clean up that first quarter, we’ve got a ballgame,” Rivers said. “The rest of the game, we looked really good, so that tells you we can do it. That tells you we can get back, we did it for three quarters. We’ve got to continue to get better every day.”
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