Splash Brothers show teeth to young Wolves

It was literally a runaway of a game Tuesday, as the Warriors ran all over the visiting Timberwolves to the tune of 121-107.

Golden State (64-14) left the struggling Wolves in the dust, totaling a season-high 41 fast break points to just 22 for Minnesota. That’s what happens when the team with the seventh-slowest pace of play meets the Warriors and let them impose their tempo.

This story has been updated with quotes and post-game material from the Warriors’ locker room at Oracle Arena.

Stephen Curry credited their fast-break outburst on the T-Wolves (31-46) sending so many people to the offensive glass:

“When we were able to eventually secure those boards and got stops, they were kind of all-in on the offensive glass and we could expose them on the other end. It’s crazy we could have had more if we controlled the offensive glass a little more.”

After being named Western Conference Player of the Week, Curry tumbled back to earth with a listless performance, shooting just 2-of-10 in the first half with a handful of awful turnovers.

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Luckily Klay Thompson picked up whatever Curry was lacking and scored a game-high 41 points with seven 3-pointers. While Curry got the Player of the Week accolade, Thompson has been equally hot, scoring 20-plus points in six straight games and reaching that mark in 13 of his last 14 games.

Thompson said an outside factor has been helping him during this stretch:

“I’d probably say the weather has gotten better. The sunshine’s been so good to me, being able to get outside, it puts me in a great mood to come to the gym everyday … That’s a big part of it, not even kidding. It’s been so nice to be able to get outside.”

But in true Curry form, he turned his subpar night quickly into another memorable one, as he hit 5-of-8 shots in the third frame on a couple of just disrespectful shots behind the arc.

Steve Kerr thought Curry was mad at himself at halftime, and Curry said that he was:

“Not just did I miss some shots I normally make but I made two dumb turnovers down the stretch of the second quarter that I wanted back. Four-point swings both times … You get frustrated but you keep playing and hope things turn around.”

Curry even threw what looked like one of the craziest passes of the season, but on further review, was a definite double-dribble.

It just shows the kind of insane displays Curry is capable of putting on because neither the refs nor the T-Wolves even noticed that it was illegal.

Curry joked that it was for sure not a double-dribble:

“When I turned to go throw it to Klay I saw a black jersey right there between so I had to kind of shuffle a little bit. It was the fastest crossover you’ve ever seen. Not a double-dribble.”

He finished with 19 points with nine assists to turn his horrendous start into just your average Curry line.

When Curry and Thompson both have it going like they did after halftime it’s so energizing for the team:

“When they both get it going and our defense can get stops, we can get out in transition. It feels like the whole game just breaks free. So that’s fun, that’s kind of when we are at our best.”

The brothers of splash were joined in the starting lineup by Matt Barnes, who has moved in and out of the starting lineup replacing Patrick McCaw depending on matchups. With Andrew Wiggins playing opposite, Kerr opted for the bigger, stronger Barnes.

The move paid off, as Barnes held Wiggins to just 9-of-20 shooting, almost all contested fadeaways. Wiggins’ line of 24 points and four turnovers looks incredibly similar to the last time these teams played when he had 24 and four turnovers on 9-of-21 shooting against mostly McCaw, but the ease of his looks were dramatically different.

Barnes even chipped in offensively with 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting. With Barnes limiting Wiggins, the Warriors were able to swarm big man Karl-Anthony Towns every time he touched the ball.

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It didn’t hurt his field goal percentage as he shot 8-of-10, but it made him give up the ball more than he or the T-Wolves would have liked. His 10 shots were just the fourth-most on the team, which the Warriors would more than live with.

That means guys like Ricky Rubio are taking more shots, and his 6-of-17 allowed the Warriors to rebound and get out and run. And as we’ve seen when the Warriors are in the open court, that’s when they are at their best—double-dribbles or no.

Up Next

The Warriors have a quick jaunt to Phoenix for their last regular season road game Wednesday. They will take on Devin Booker and the Suns without Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala, who are scheduled to rest that game.

Notes

The Warriors’ magic number to clinch the first seed in the West falls to just two games after their win tonight. So any combination of San Antonio loses or Warriors wins adding up to two is all that’s left for the Warriors to have home court advantage throughout the playoffs. … With 64 wins now, the Warriors are the first franchise in NBA history to win at least 63 games in three-straight seasons. They also passed the 1995-98 Chicago Bulls for most wins in NBA history over three seasons, with a total of 204 wins now. … Kevon Looney returned to the lineup and played the final four minutes of garbage time and finished with two points and three rebounds.


Curtis Uemura is SFBay’s Golden State Warriors beat writer. Follow @SFBay and @CUemura on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of Warriors basketball.