Big 3 light up Timberwolves with 3-point barrage
The Warriors took a page out of the zodiac calendar and in the year of the dog, they dogged the Minnesota Timberwolves, 126- 113 — all while debuting their new Chinese New Year uniforms.
Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson each topped the 20-point threshold on ultra efficient shooting as the upstart T’Wolves (31-20), in the hunt for their first playoff appearance since 2004, succumbed to Golden State (38-10) and its impressive fireworks display.
Durant led the way with 28 points, 10 boards, 11 assists, two steals and two blocks, while Curry and Thompson poured in 25 apiece.
Steve Kerr credited Durant with sparking the offense:
“I thought Kevin offensively was pushing the ball like crazy in transition, which really set a good tone. I know he had a triple-double, but some of the plays he didn’t even get the assist but he raced the ball down the floor, which puts the defense on their heels.”
But it was their 3-point stroke that was really on display, as Curry had the worst night from range out of the three — and he shot 5-of-9. That’ll happen when you let Thompson and Durant get loose for 7-of-9 and 6-of-9 respectively.
They also got help from Andre Iguodala, who found his legs, scoring 10 points before halftime, which is just the seventh time he’s scored in double figures in a single game all season. He even had an extremely confident pull up 3-pointer that swished through like he hadn’t been shooting 22 percent from behind the arc for the season — just 14 percent since the beginning of December.
Maybe it was because the Warriors canceled shootaround Thursday, or maybe Iguodala is finally starting to hit his stride.
Either way, Kerr said that no shootaround wouldn’t be a thing going forward:
“If they [want to cancel shootarounds the rest of the year], I’m going to remind them that we go over defense in shootarounds.”
Or, it could be the Wolves defense was hot trash.
Every Warriors shot from deep was wide open, with nary a Timberwolf in sight. It’s no wonder the Wolves rank dead-last in the NBA in opponent field goal percentage, letting teams shoot 47.8 percent from the field against them.
It was even worse Thursday as the Warriors absolutely feasted on open looks to the tune of 53 percent shooting and an insane 56 percent from deep, which was a lot higher before their 20-point dud of a fourth quarter.
For a coach, Tom Thibodeau, who’s supposed specialty is defense, that isn’t going to strike fear in any contenders heart, regardless of Minnesota’s record. Especially when you can run all over them, as the Warriors showed in the first half, racking up 39 fast break points — the most fast break points in a half since the NBA started keeping track in 2002.
Durant said it was a conscious decision to push the ball against the Wolves:
“We always talk about pushing the tempo and I feel like sometimes we can create some momentum, especially if a team scores on us and we get it out the net and push and try to find a basket, that deflates a team. I just try to pick and choose my spots, I got a couple turnovers where I just need to slow down, but this is kind of new for me, I never really pushed the ball this much.”
While their offense was running wild though the Warrior defense lagged behind. Karl-Anthony Towns beasted any and all Warrior takers down low to the tune of 31 points and 11 rebounds.
And if it wasn’t for Andrew Wiggins — 4-of-18 from the field — taking shots from Towns and shooting the Wolves out of the game, the Warriors may have paid for their defensive lapses.
The Warriors will get a day break before their marquee matchup with the Boston Celtics Saturday. The Celtics (35-14) sit atop of the Eastern Conference and are just 3.5 games back from the Warriors for the best record in the NBA,
Zaza Pachulia played in his 1000th career regular season game Thursday. He is the third Warriors player to hit the 1000 game mark this season, with Andre Iguodala and David West also reaching that number earlier this season. … The 21 3-pointers the Warriors made are a season high. It’s just the eighth time this season that a team has made 20 or more 3’s.