There was plenty of snickering but no real joy late Friday night, when the Warriors in a span of about an hour lost consecutive games to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The first loss came in the third period, when the Warriors shot 25 percent while spitting up eight turnovers to give away a 19-point cushion in less than nine minutes.
The second loss came in overtime, after they’d fought back to tie the game in regulation only to wind up on the painful end of some dubious officiating that played a significant role in a 131-130 overtime loss at Target Center.
In Under Review, we take a look at some of the positives and negatives of what may have felt like two losses but will count as only one in the standings:
The abominable third
The third quarter was reminiscent of the woefully pathetic Warriors of the early 2000s.
They were sloppy, with eight turnovers giving Minnesota 12 easy points. They were off-target, shooting 5-of-20 from the field, including 0-of-9 from beyond the arc. They were outscored 32-18, which is how the Timberwolves, down by 19 with 9:05 left in the quarter, pulled into a tie going into the fourth.
Failing to record even one assist is evidence the Warriors ruptured their offense. They also lost their composure, spending excessive time and energy yakking at the officials.
As questionable as the officiating was in OT, this is where the Warriors lost the game.
Mauled on the glass again
When the Warriors fall short, the cause often is too many turnovers or poor rebounding fundamentals. Aside from the third quarter, turnovers were not the issue. Rebounding, though, was a problem all night. They were outrebounded 59-45, and they gave up 15 offensive rebounds that led to 22 second-chance points for the Timberwolves.
This came one game after the Warriors allowed the Grizzlies to pull 19 offensive rebounds in Memphis.
It’s a weakness that often surfaces against vastly inferior opponents. Giving up 34 offensive rebounds in the past two games, the Warriors were fortunate only one of the opponents shot well enough to take advantage.
Karl-Anthony Towns has been the most productive center in the league since the All-Star break, averaging 30.9 points per game on 55.2-percent shooting from the field, including 48.2 percent from deep. On this night, he was the latest victim in DeMarcus Cousins’ campaign to remind folks he can play defense.
Using physicality and quick hands, Cousins quickly got into Towns’ head. Clearly uncomfortable, Towns totaled 15 points, on 5-of-17 shooting, with five fouls and five turnovers in 30 minutes.
The Warriors lost the game, but Boogie won his battle.
With both Andrew Wiggins (10-of-24 from the field) and Towns struggling, the Timberwolves needed production from sources other than their two leading scorers. They got it from unlikely sources: Gorgui Dieng, Anthony Tolliver and Jerryd Bayless. Those three reserves combined for 45 points on 15-of-28 shooting, including 5-of-11 from deep.
The Warriors struggled with the length of Dieng and Tolliver (both 6-foot-10) and failed to match Bayless’ hustle.
The result was being outscored 49-25 in bench points. For all the Warriors did to contain the Minnesota stars, they failed in big ways to slow the bench.
Steph Curry’s 3-point shot was the most consistent thing the Warriors had. In scoring a game-high 37 points, he was 13-of-25 from the field, 11-of-19 from deep. This was the eighth time he has made at least 11 3-pointers in a game. It’s the sixth time this season he has made at least 10 3-balls and the 15th time in his career.
His 11th and final triple, from the left corner over tight defense to tie the game with .8 seconds left in OT, was a miracle stolen from a dream. It was not quite enough.