The Minnesota Timberwolves scored 116 points and shot 49.4 percent from the field on Thursday night at the Target Center. They outrebounded the opponent by 14 and made 12 more free throws. That’s a pretty good recipe for a win, especially against a team playing the second game of a back-to-back set.
Unfortunately for Minnesota, the opponent was the defending NBA champions. Behind 46 points from Stephen Curry, the Golden State Warriors defeated the Timberwolves 129-116. With their 10th straight win to open the season, the Warriors are off to their best start in franchise history.
“Anytime you can do something that hasn’t been done in franchise history, it’s huge,” Curry said. “It doesn’t mean anything obviously. We haven’t won a championship. It’s definitely a good start to the season and just want to keep it going.”
With the game being televised nationally on TNT and only one other game being played at the same time, the spotlight was on Curry and the reigning MVP got off to a torrid start. In the opening 132 seconds, Curry already had nine points, two steals, one rebound and one assist. The Warriors scored the first 10 points and jumped out to a 13-2 lead.
“He’s just so dangerous,” Warriors interim head coach Luke Walton said. “At anytime he can go on a 6-0, 8-0 run just off of transition, getting a steal and pulling up for a 3. He’s always in an attack mode. He’s definitely playing at MVP-level again right now.”
By the time the first quarter buzzer sounded, Curry had scored 21 points. He shot 6-of-9 from the field, 4-of-5 from 3-point range and 5-of-5 from the charity stripe. The Warriors had a 40-23 lead.
The Wolves have a young nucleus in 19-year-old Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins (20), Zach LaVine (20) and Ricky Rubio (25). They also have solid veterans in Kevin Garnett (39), Andre Miller (39) and Tayshaun Prince (35). Although Minnesota played without an injured Rubio (hamstring), they made the Warriors sweat for the rest of the game.
Golden State built an 18-point lead in the second quarter, but the Wolves scored 12 straight points to cut the lead to six. It was a 12-point game at halftime.
Curry made back-to-back 3-pointers to help extend the lead to 97-76 late in the third quarter. Every trey Curry makes is highlight worthy. But the first splash was special. Curry went up for the shot. Miller got his hands on the ball. But Curry never lost concentration, did not lose stride and the ball swished through the net.
Those two daggers by Curry within a span of 27 seconds have broken other teams’ resolve in the past. But Minnesota proved to be an exception. All the young Wolves did was to go on a 18-2 run over the next 4:52 to cut the lead to five with 9:47 left in the game.
The Warriors did not let the Wolves get any closer. They were able to stop the leak with Curry resting on the bench. Harrison Barnes made a big 3-pointer to stop the run. Shaun Livingston hit a turnaround jumper from the left baseline. Draymond Green added a 3-pointer. When Curry came back in with 6:35 left, he scored 11 points to finish Minnesota off for good.
Curry shot 15-of-25 from the field, 8-of-13 from 3-point range and 8-of-8 from the free throw line. Green had 23 points, 12 assists, eight rebounds, two steals and two blocks. Klay Thompson scored 15 points. Barnes finished with 14 points. Festus Ezeli added 10 points.
Wiggins led seven Wolves in double-figures with 19 points. Rookie Karl-Anthony Towns had 17 points and 11 rebounds. Shabazz Muhammad and Kevin Martin came off the bench and scored 16 and 15 points, respectively.
The Warriors shot 53.9 percent from the field and finished with 34 assists on 48 field goals. They were 18-of-38 from beyond the arc.
Notes: The Warriors are the 14th team to start 10-0. Dating back to last season, Golden State has won 14-straight regular season games. The Warriors start 5-0 on the road for the first time in franchise history. Per Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle, Leandro Barbosa was not with the team for personal reasons. Without Barbosa, the Warriors reserves were outscored 61-21. Marreese Speights was a DNP-CD for the first time this season.
On the road to 73:
2015-16 Golden State Warriors 10-0
1995-96 Chicago Bulls 9-1