Warriors

Warriors

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO -- For much of the season, the Warriors have been looking for consistency. By the end of Monday night, they achieved something they hadn't all year: Win two straight games. 

Golden State's 113-104 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves came despite the team nearly squandering a 24-point lead, as the T-Wolves outscored the Warriors 46-31 over the game's final 15 minutes.

Nonetheless, the Warriors will take the win and a 2-0 record on the current five-game homestand, setting the stage for Christmas Day matinee against the Houston Rockets. 

Here are three takeaways from Monday's win. 

Defense steps up

In a year plagued by defensive inconsistency, the unit showed up Monday. Through 48 minutes, the Warriors held the Wolves to 40 percent shooting from the field, including just 33 percent from 3-point range. 

Notable scorer Andrew Wiggins made just 10 of 26 shots from the field, while Josh Okogie missed each of his seven shots. Meanwhile, Warriors big man Willie-Cauley-Stein had three blocks, and two in the first half as the Warriors built a 14-point halftime lead. Along the way, the Warriors outrebounded the T-Wolves 55-41 on the night.

For much of the season, the Warriors have tried to find a defensive identity through their transitional period with so many stars on the shelf. Entering Monday, they ranked near the bottom of the league in defense. 

Monday's win won't fix their problems overnight, but it was a step in the right direction. 

 

Russell leads the way

Russell nearly single-handedly beat Minnesota last time the teams played, scoring a career-high 52. On Monday, he produced a lower scoring output but had a similar influence. The guard scored 30 points on 8-of-18 shooting, adding four assists and four rebounds. 

The 23-year-old has been playing well lately, including a 25-point performance against the New Orleans Pelicans three days ago that was capped by a clutch shot in the final minute. With Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry out for an extended period of time, Russell will continue to have an ultra-green light to shoot.

If he continues with performances similar to Monday, Golden State will continue to be happy with the results. 

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Burks chips in

Aiding Russell's scoring was a balanced attack by Alec Burks, who finished with 25 points, eight assists and three 3-pointers. After the T-Wolves cut the lead to six in the fourth quarter, Burks hit a 3-pointer to keep Minnesota at bay. Later in the quarter, he hit another to put the Warriors up 13 points with 2:25 left.

For weeks, speculation has surrounded Burks' future with the Warriors. His scoring punch off the bench will certainly help any team with postseason aspirations. On Monday, he proved he can get buckets no matter where he plays.